In this day of emails and texting, of social media posts and Twitter accounts, the skills of cover letter formatting are foreign to many. However, most employers still expect a professional approach from job seekers and the ability to write and format a great cover letter is a skill worth cultivating.
The standard business letter format is still the preferred approach for a good cover letter. Start with the date, include the name of the person and / or organization the letter is addressed to, and begin your letter with a strong and appropriate first paragraph. This paragraph should state the position that you are applying for, your desire and suitability for the role, and perhaps your passion for the employer’s company or field of work.
Make certain that you include all requirements stated by the employer in your cover letter such as your available start date, the job reference number, salary expectations, etc. You do not want your application to be overlooked by omitting these important facts – the employer would wish to believe that you are capable of following instructions.
Your cover letter example should be professional and concise. Try to avoid rambling or going off topic. You can convey a friendliness in your approach, but at all times your key focus should be professionalism and respect. A one page cover letter is the ideal format.
A key tip for writing and formatting a great cover letter is to copy and paste (for removal when you complete the letter, of course) the advertisement or job description onto your page so that you may refer to the wording as you create your letter. Using key industry related words, or some of the words the advertiser has used when describing their ideal candidate, within the body of your text can convey a subliminal message of understanding the prospective employer’s needs. Don’t go overboard however – ensure your letter is original and not a copy of the job advertisement.
Ensure you don’t start each paragraph with “I”. This can be tricky but you really want to show the reader that even though your cover letter is essentially about you, it is also about the role and the company. Bring in key points about the role to the cover letter and then add your corresponding skills or suitability for each point.
One trap to avoid is formatting your cover letter as a replica of your CV or resume. This is your opportunity to show your potential new employer your suitability for their particular vacancy and you need to show examples of when you have performed or achieved the requirements they list in their advertisement. It is acceptable to use bullet points in a small section of your letter to better illustrate key points.
Finally, ensure your completed cover letter looks attractive to the eye, with well spaced and even paragraphs, good word flow and a definite beginning and end. Sign off in a formal manner, including your full name and perhaps adding your best contact number under your name to make it easy for the advertiser to connect with you.