How should I outline my cover letter? While a resume is a list of your entire professional background, a cover letter is a written explanation of your career history and why you’re the most qualified candidate for the job. So, think of your cover letter as your sales pitch to keep recruiters curious enough to call you for an interview.
Below you’ll find cover letter tips and samples for any profession to serve as your draft.
Cover letter outline for any profession
Your cover letter header should have your contact details:
City, State zip code
Date of when you wrote the cover letter and recruiter’s details:
Month day, year
Recruiter’s job title
City, State zip code
Dear Mr./Ms. (Recruiter’s last name):
The first paragraph is your career purpose and introduction:
Here, you’ll explain why you’re writing this letter. First, name the job position you’re applying for or your interest if the company has no specific job openings. Next, mention briefly how you know about the company or what you know about them. Then, write why you want to pursue a career with them.
Start your cover letter strong so that it catches the hiring manager’s attention. But don’t just express your interest. Let them know how you’re a great asset to the company rather than a liability.
The middle paragraph is your career background and qualifications:
Don’t copy everything from your resume. Instead, take bits of information and describe them thoroughly in your cover letter—elaborate on your qualifications and experience as specific as possible. Tell your hiring manager a story of how you got these skills related to the role you’re applying for, so the key is to match your knacks to the employer’s needs.
- Pinpoint exact details of how you helped your previous employer.
- Offer data and examples of your achievements. For instance, contributing x% in monthly sales through effective marketing strategies.
- Or trained x amount of staff which increased their productivity. This boosted company sales.
Then, explain how you can replicate the same results with the company you’re currently applying to so they know you’re a valuable fit.
The final paragraph is your call to action:
Finish your cover letter by restating your interest in the role and how your skills match the position. Next, refer your employers to your resume for more information about your career experience. Remind them about the professional contributions you can bring to the table. Finally, thank your recruiters for their time. Then write a call to action and ask them to contact you for an interview for further discussion.
Complimentary close and sign-off:
(Place your handwritten signature here if you’re sending a hard copy of your cover letter)
Your full name
How to outline your cover letter [tips]
The ideal cover letter length typically contains three paragraphs that outline why you’re applying for the job position. So it should be unique. No cover letter should be the same as others.
It’s highly recommended not to copy any cover letter samples you see on the internet. While there’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from another’s well-written examples, it doesn’t show authenticity. Besides, hiring managers can spot a copy-paste job right off the bat.
A good cover letter should convince recruiters that you’re valuable to the company. So take notes of these cover letter tips down below:
1. Include your contact information
Effective cover letters contain your current contact information. Without it, your hiring manager won’t be able to reach you when they decide to call you for an interview.
These days some professionals add their LinkedIn accounts since it lets recruiters know them better. However, this is optional.
Including your LinkedIn profile offers recruiters an insider look into your professional side. So create a clear-cut profile and update it frequently because this gives you an edge over other applicants.
2. Include the hiring manager’s name and contact information
To impress your hiring manager with your cover letter, address it properly. But if you don’t know their name, do some research. Contact the company you’re interested in because it shows that you’re keen on the role.
You may also address your cover as such:
- Department name
- Company name
- Company address
- Contact information
While it’s becoming uncommon to submit a printed copy of your cover letter, there may be times when companies will require you to do so. In cases like those, align your paragraphs to the left side of your document.
3. Include the current date
When writing the date on your cover letter, always use the long date format even if you’re applying to a company outside the U.S.
The long date format includes the name of the month. Next to it is the numbered date. Then separate the date and the year with a comma and a space. But you have to write the four-digit year. So, for example, instead of writing 01/01/22, 01/01/2022, or other similar date formats, you should write January 1, 2022.
If the job position is outside the United States, the date format on your cover letter would be a little different. So you’ll have to write the date first, then the name of the month and the four-digit number of the year. There’s no need to use a comma in this case.
Here’s an example:
01 January 2022
Another way of writing the date when you’re applying for a job outside the U.S. is to write ordinals or additional letters after the numbered date, like 1st January 2022.
When formatting your cover letter, put your date on the top left-hand side above your contact information. Or between your contact details and the hiring manager’s.
4. Start with a professional salutation
Salutations are a sign of respect so use the appropriate words on your cover letter to greet your hiring manager. While some recruiters may approve of “Hi,” “Hello,” and “Hey,” it’s still helpful to use formal words instead.
Go the extra mile and research the company’s hiring manager if you aren’t familiar with their names. Check their website or reread the job description to see if their names are on there. If it’s not there, you can use “Dear Hiring Manager.”
Using “To whom it may concern” and “Dear Sir/Madam” is okay, but it’s outdated. Not a lot of professionals use these terms anymore.
5. Write a clear and direct introduction
It will only take 7.4 seconds to impress recruiters with your resume. So it’s crucial to captivate them with a banging cover letter introduction.
The introduction of your cover letter must catch your potential employer’s attention. This is the section where you highlight your enthusiasm about the job and the company. Some professionals include keywords from the job posting as it shows that they understand the requirements. So try to match your skills to the keywords and phrases you see on the job listing. Then indicate if someone referred you to this role or where you found the job post.
6. Expound on your qualifications in the body
The middle of your paragraph is the perfect place to explain your experiences and accomplishments relevant to the position. Exceed the hiring manager’s expectations by researching the company’s current state and future plans. Then further explain how you can help them achieve this.
If possible, illustrate your career development in bullet form since it draws the recruiter’s attention to your achievements. But ensure that you can explain everything in short sentences. Because recruiters receive about 250 applicants, they won’t have enough time to read cover letters with multiple pages.
A two-page cover letter isn’t always necessary unless stated otherwise. But senior professionals with extensive work experience related to the role may submit one.
7. Write a memorable closing with a call to action
End your cover letter with an unforgettable concluding statement that summarizes the entire letter. State how you repeat or make better results for the company compared to your former organization. But it shouldn’t sound arrogant so keep it honest and subtle. This shows how the company can benefit from your experience.
Most importantly, express gratitude to your potential employer for taking the time to read your cover letter. Then finish it off with an impressive call to action. For example, “What can a 22% increase in employee productivity do to your organization?”
8. Sign your cover letter
When signing your cover letter, choose a formal yet friendly closing such as:
- Kind regards
- Best wishes
- Respectfully yours
- Thank you kindly for your consideration
Avoid closing your cover letters with “Cheers,” “Warm regards,” and “Yours truly” because they’re too affectionate and casual. You don’t want your cover letter to sound like you’re writing a letter to a friend.
Finally, place your full name three spaces below your closing so you can sign your signature above it. But make sure you write a handwritten signature when submitting a printed copy.
If you’re sending your cover letter through email, it’s optional to affix your digital signature.
How to format your cover letter [tips]
Every detail in a cover letter must embody professionalism. So your resume and cover letter format should match to make it look polished and formal. Here are some examples of how to format your cover letter:
- Font style – A cover letter font style must be simple and basic such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, and Georgia. So don’t use decorative or script fonts because they’re hard to read. If you want to use bold fonts to emphasize an important element in your cover letter, go ahead. But don’t overdo it. And never highlight or color your fonts if you wish to pinpoint something.
- Font size – The standard font size for cover letters is 10-12, making it easy for recruiters to read through paragraphs.
- Paragraph spacing – Use only single-space in your cover letter. Including white spaces in your letter lets your potential employer go over it quickly. Then leave one additional space between addresses, dates, contact details, greetings, and paragraphs. Finally, add three spaces after your sign-off to leave room for your signature. However, you can adjust your spaces to make room if necessary.
- Page layout (page size + margins) – The page layout of a cover letter differs from country to country. But the standard layout in the U.S. is 21.6 cm x 27.9 cm, while in Europe, it’s A4 format.
The accepted margin size of a cover letter is no more than 1-inch, but you can shrink it only up to 0.7-inches on all sides. Then align the text to the left side of the page. There’s no need to indent your paragraphs.
- File type – The compatible file types for cover letters are .pdf and .docx. Submitting your document using other file types may not be read on some computers.
- File name – Name your cover letter file like this: First-name-Last-name-Job-Title-Cover-Letter or FirstNameLastNameJobTitleCoverLetter. So when your recruiter saves your document into a folder with other applicants, they’re in alphabetical order. But avoid using lowercase when saving your file name as some recruiters find it lazy. Capitalize only the first letters instead.
- Length – The ideal cover letter length mustn’t exceed one page. But there are some instances where companies may require you to send a two-page cover letter.
Your cover letter is your promotional material
A cover letter is a great place to convince employers for an interview, even without meeting them. It’s your written advertisement, and the product is you—your skills, qualifications, character, and professional experience.
While there might be many things you want to say in your cover letter, you only get to choose the ones that’ll match the company’s requirements. So be sure to proofread your document to remove any errors and irrelevant information.