What Does a Good Cover Letter Look Like

what does a cover letter look like

If you’ve never written a cover letter, you might not know what they look like. Or maybe you're wondering, "what should go inside my cover letter?" This can be a stressful time for you. You are feeling the pressure of wanting the job. And want to make the best cover letter you possibly can. But what does a cover letter look like?

Let’s go through what a cover letter is and the basics of what goes inside of your cover letter to give you an idea of what they are.

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a business letter. When thinking about what a cover letter is, consider this an opportunity to write a letter, speaking to your future employer.

For the most part, this is like having a conversation with them without actually being in the same room.

For your employer, this gives them an opportunity to scan through candidates and learn who might be a good fit for the job. And for you, it gives you an opportunity to throw your hat into the ring, say what you feel is valuable about your previous experience or your achievements, then get an interview.

The cover letter is only designed to get you an interview. It is not designed to get you a job. When writing a cover letter, it is imperative to keep that in mind.

Most job seekers, when writing their cover letter, assume that it is going to get them the job. But what it really does is allow your employer to learn about you, invite you to the interview, then ask you questions related to what you may have mentioned in the cover letter.

What Goes In a Cover Letter

Inside a cover letter are a few components to the business letter that makes it a cover letter.

The first is your contact information, which is a business heading to your letter. This is where you would place your name, email address, phone number, mailing address or other contact information.

The second is your opening paragraph. This is where you get the opportunity to proposition your future employer. The opening paragraph of your cover letter is very important to spend the time strategizing.

This is where you get the opportunity to really “hook” your hiring manager and grab their attention. When you open your cover letter with something that seems as though you might be begging for the position. Or something that seems generic, it doesn’t come across as a cover letter with someone who has experience.

The next part of your cover letter is your prior work achievements. This is considered the body of your cover letter. If you don’t have any prior experience, this might be a time where you mention academic achievements or awards.

Anything where you feel it might be applicable to the employer and applicable to the job.

These are the main important components to your cover letter. But it doesn’t end there. There are a few small details that you have to consider in your letter.

Let’s go over those now.

Your Salutation, Your Closing Paragraph

Using the right salutation is important to consider. Ideally, you want to mention the hiring manager or reader by name. This will make the cover letter look very customized to the company and to the reader. Which alludes that you didn’t simply take a cover letter template, modify it, and send it over as part of your application details.

Your salutation is the greeting that you use to open the letter. Never use the greeting “To Whom It May Concern” as it lacks personality to the highest degree.

Your closing paragraph, or how you end your cover letter is important too. This can be a time where you decide to challenge the reader. Where you show your confidence or where you simply show that you are thankful for them having read your cover letter.

The end of your cover letter also has a strategy that you should consider, and should follow, if you can.

Exporting Your Cover Letter

Most job seekers attach their cover letter as a word document. Because that’s where they wrote the cover letter. When you send your future employer a Word Document, you risk a few things. The first thing you risk is that the employer or reader might not have Microsoft Word. This happens more than you think.

The second thing it risks is the fact that you saved your cover letter as a Word Document for a version of Microsoft Word that the reader doesn’t have. Making it impossible for them to open the cover letter.

The best thing you can do is to export your cover letter as a PDF. A PDF is a universal file type. And most Apple and Windows computers will be able to open a PDF without a problem.

Best Practices for Your Cover Letter

When thinking about how to format your cover letter, consider the elements that make your cover letter readable. That’s your end goal, that your hiring manager not only reads your cover letter and appreciates it but that they read it effectively.

This means keeping these basics in mind:

Related: Best Professional Font Size For The Resume

Here is what your cover letter should look like when you export it:

what does a cover letter look like

Additional Cover Letter Resources

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


Help us by spreading the word