What Does a Good 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:
- Keep your page margins to the default settings. Don’t try to change your page margins thinking that it makes your cover letter appear longer.
- Keep your font size to 11-point at the max. Ideally, 9-point or 10-point font would be the best.
- When deciding on which font to use, never use Arial or Helvetica, which is a sans-serif font. Instead, choose a professional typeface like Calibri or Georgia, which will come across as more of a formal business letter.
- Always proofread your cover letter, have friends or family review it before sending. The more brevity your cover letter has, the more impactful it will be.
- Never have your cover letter be more than 600 words, unless you are writing an executive cover letter, where you might need more room to speak to the business.
Here is what your cover letter should look like when you export it:
Additional Cover Letter Resources
- Learn how to end a professional letter, business letter, or cover letter - How To End A Letter: Examples of Closings, Sign Offs
- Learn how to address a cover letter in a professional and effective manner - How to Address a Cover Letter and Find a Managers Name to Use
- Learn how to properly include your contact information on your resume or cover letter - Including Your Contact Information On A Resume Or Cover Letter
- Discover ten best alternatives to using the email greeting, "I hope this email finds you well" - 10 Best Alternatives to “I Hope This Email Finds You Well”
- Learn how to end your cover letter with a strong closing phrase - How to End a Cover Letter (30+ Examples)
Phone interviews have become a core part of the process when attempting to find a secured placement for an open position. Companies receive massive responses from potential candidates for any..
Concerning a job search, you might receive numerous offers from your recruiters. Before you choose one, you need to assess all the conditions, for which it is vital that you know everything associated with the offered position..
Answering this question during a job interview requires more than knowing why you are unique as an individual. Yes, the true scientific answer is made up of two main components: your..
So, you have been in search of a job for a considerable time but are yet to be selected for one. If that's the case, don’t worry anymore because we have got you covered..
Open-ended questions like “What motivates you?” can elicit a deer-in-the-headlights reaction from job candidates if they are unprepared. It’s a broad question and can leave the interviewer..
A lot of interviewers ask this question - how did you hear about this position? This way they can judge you if you are a passive or an active job seeker..
Writing a thank you note after an interview says a lot about you as a potential employee. Most notably, it says that you care about the opportunities presented..
Writing the perfect letter of resignation is more of an art than it is a science. And we’re going to cover how to master that art form in this full guide..
Knowing how to end a business note or email is an important skill to develop. It helps portray a sense of confidence, respect and tone to your message..