Cover Letter Formats & Examples to Impress Hiring Managers

A cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself to a hiring manager, recruiter, or employer. Our format guide will show you what to (and what not to) include in your cover letter.

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Table of Contents

  1. 4 Keys to Understanding the Cover Letter Format
    1. Cover letter formats that help you find the right look
    2. Create a Cover Letter for Any Industry
  2. FAQ: Cover Letter Formats

4 Keys to Understanding the Cover Letter Format

Much like your resume, the format of your cover letter is also important. You should have a document that is eye-catching, readable and encourages an interview. While that seems easier said than done, we can help you craft a cover letter format example suitable for your industry.

Below we’ll explain everything you need to know about proper cover letter structure, from ordering your section, classic fonts, margins, spacing and length, to ensuring that your cover letter is formatted for any job application.


Showcase the best parts of your resume for any job posting

Your cover letter should draw attention to the best parts of your resume while providing more information about how you can fill the job’s requirements. Your resume will contain basic facts about your past experiences. Cover letters allow you to elaborate on your strengths. The narrative form of the cover letter gives you a chance to provide metrics and show the positive results that came from the skills mentioned in your resume.

For example, a teacher’s aide looking for a different position in the school district may have a cover letter highlight like this: “I have prepared educational resources and integrated technology into daily lessons, boosting 45% of student's academic progress.” Which shows off organizational skills, lesson plan-creating experience and a positive outcome.


Provide insight into your personality

Your cover letter should draw attention to the best parts of your resume while providing more information about how you can fill the job’s requirements. Your resume will contain basic facts about your past experiences. Cover letters allow you to elaborate on your strengths. The narrative form of the cover letter gives you a chance to provide metrics and show the positive results that came from the skills mentioned in your resume.

For example, a teacher’s aide looking for a different position in the school district may have a cover letter highlight like this: "I have prepared educational resources and integrated technology into daily lessons, boosting 45% of student's academic progress." Which shows off organizational skills, lesson plan-creating experience and a positive outcome.


Tailor your letter to your company’s culture

When writing a cover letter it is important to note the things the company you’re applying for values, like teamwork or consumer satisfaction and align your letter to reflect those value systems. Tone and style are also a factor, for example in a creative or design position your tone will be different than when you’re writing for a leadership position at a financial company. For guidance on nailing the right tone and channeling the best way to research your cover letter check out ResumeHelp’s guide to preparing your cover letter.


Make sure the cover letter scans easily

A recruiter will not typically read every word on your cover letter. Instead, if your letter passes through applicant tracking systems (ATS), they will scan it to look for the right keywords and references in the job description before deciding whether they want to bring you in for an interview. This is why having a readable cover letter that properly uses whitespaces, is double-spaced and has a readable font is important.

Remember, that you want to use words that are going to get a recruiter's attention. If you’re applying for a customer service Representative job, for example, you need to use phrasing that highlights words like “customer service” and “satisfaction” along with “manage customer complaints,” and using the job title of “Customer Service” for previous jobs when applicable.


Create Your Cover Letter

Cover letter formats that help you find the right look

Our professional cover letter formats can help you find exactly the right layout for the cover letter that you’re crafting while also providing an email ready document in WORD file formats like DOC, DOCX and PDF. If you’re trying to make sure that your cover letter is as eye-catching as possible, using a cover letter format is the best way to make sure your document includes all the right elements.

With our professional formats and examples, making a traditional cover letter is a breeze across any industry as you’re taking tips from people who are experts in cover letter formatting for job applications.

Create a Cover Letter for Any Industry

Essentially every job will require a cover letter, which can be daunting when you don’t write very much, if you’re applying for a job in a new industry or if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while. Cover letter examples and formats can help you write all of these letters more easily.

When you need a cover letter, you must be able to infuse that cover letter with your personality while also providing all the information that a cover letter will need to offer. Our examples will give you everything you need to know about crafting your experience to the cover letter format and direct your letter writing but will also show you how to insert your unique flair.

Our professional cover letter formats can help you find exactly the right layout for the cover letter that you’re writing. Most people who write cover letters aren’t professional designers, which can be a problem if you’re trying to ensure that your cover letter is as eye-catching as possible. If you’ve applied to hundreds of jobs your cover letter writing skills need to be top-notch to stand out and get the job you’re looking for.

Following these cover letter tips and looking through professional cover letter samples can help you understand what you need to include in your letter and how to write it for the best results. Follow the lead of ResumeHelp’s cover letter examples to ensure your cover letter is perfect before you submit it.


FAQ: Cover Letter Formats

Q: How do you format a cover letter?

Typically, your cover letter should only be a few paragraphs long filled with details your resume didn’t cover, arranged like this:

  • Your information, including contact information like a phone number
  • The recipient’s information
  • Salutation to the recipient
  • Explanation of why you’re interested in the position
  • A rundown of the skills and experience you have that are relevant for this position
  • A request for an interview, and closing

Usually, people include their full name, address, email and phone number in the header and links to any job networking profiles, such as LinkedIn or a portfolio.

Q: Do I need an individual cover letter for every job application?

You should make your cover letter unique for every single job application. This may seem like a lot of work, but the cover letter is what gives potential employers an idea of who you are. You need to tailor your cover letter to every workplace, every job, and every hiring manager, or you’ll find that the number of callbacks you get goes down dramatically.

One of the best ways that a hiring manager can tell when a cover letter is “copied-and-pasted” is when the letter isn’t actually personalized to the job, or addressed to a specific person or company. Starting a letter with “To whom it may concern” “Dear sir,” or “Dear hiring manager” isn’t a good move because it’s impersonal. Instead, your salutation should include the hiring manager’s name. You can use their full name, or use “Dear Mr. or Ms. [Last Name]”.

It’s important to remember that this also doesn’t mean you need to start completely from scratch on every cover letter. Start with a cover letter template and fill out for a specific job. This will be your guideline for how to write the letter, making it much easier for you to adapt and update every time you need to create another cover letter.

Q: Do I need an individual cover letter for every job application?

One of the best ways that a hiring manager can tell when a cover letter is “copied-and-pasted” is when the letter isn’t actually personalized to the job. Starting a letter with “To whom it may concern,” “Dear sir” or “Dear hiring manager” isn’t a good move, and using generated phrasing without proofreading creates an impersonal letter. You should make your cover letter unique for every single job application as the cover letter is what gives potential employers an idea of who you are. You need to tailor your cover letter to every workplace, every job and every hiring manager, or you’ll find that the number of callbacks you get goes down dramatically.

However, personalizing a cover letter for every job you apply for doesn’t mean you need to start completely from scratch on each one. Start with a cover letter template and fill out the key points for each specific job. This will be your guideline for how to write the letter, making it much easier for you to adapt and update every time you need to create another cover letter.

Q: Do job seekers really need a cover letter that badly?

A cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself and show off who you really are to your potential employer. While the resume lists all of your important skills and achievements, cover letters provide more detail about how you could be a benefit to a company. Too many people don’t submit their resumes with a cover letter because they don’t feel like it’s really necessary. But in the current job market, a good cover letter can set you apart from the competition and get you a response from a potential employer. This is true even if the job listing doesn’t state that you need a cover letter. Plus, it’s your opportunity to forge a connection with an employer and make a formal request for an interview. You should expect to write a cover letter if you’re applying to anything other than the most entry-level job.

Q: Should I use cover letter samples?

Yes! Cover letter samples are a great way to make your cover letter look better and be more effective in your given industry. A cover letter sample will typically either be from a professional writer who has experience in the field of writing cover letters or will be an actual cover letter that someone has used to get a job. Remember, cover letter samples aren’t just letters that you take and reuse wholesale, same with using a cover letter builder, you should use these tools as a guide for making your letter more professional while remaining personalized to your career needs.

Q: How long should my cover letter be?

There are very few situations where you may be able to utilize a cover letter that’s longer than a single page. Employers usually want a cover letter as a companion to your resume so it should be as easy to read and scannable as your other documents. Your hiring manager doesn’t want to read a significant amount of content, all they need is to get a good picture of your top talents and why they should choose you. When crafting your letter you should work from a standard three-sectioned format, with a single opening paragraph introducing yourself and indicating why you’re writing to this particular company. Body paragraphs give information about your history and skills. Your closing paragraph should request an interview and express your excitement to work with the employer.

Q: Are there any best practices for cover letter writing?

The best practice for writing a cover letter is understanding that your letter needs to reflect your best, most professional self. That means emphasizing skills and experiences that apply to the job and giving employers an understanding of why you’re interested in the position by using relevant metrics and giving narrative examples of real-world challenges you overcame.

If you’re looking for an easier way to write your cover letter, ResumeHelp has your back. Find out more about formatting your cover letter and look through our cover letter tips and utilize our variety of cover letter templates to get a feel for how to do so.

Q: What are the 5 parts if a cover letter?

A strong, well-written cover letter is composed of these five key sections:

  1. 1. The Header:

  2. This section contains your most recent contact information. Include your telephone number, professional email address and links to your LinkedIn profile, personal website or online portfolio, if applicable.

  3. 2. Professional Greeting:

  4. Research to find the hiring manager or recruiter’s name and address your cover letter to that person. If it is not listed in the job ad, look at LinkedIn or the company website to identify the right person or department. Avoid generic greetings, such as “To Whom It May Concern.”

  5. 3. Opening paragraph:

  6. The opening paragraph of your letter should mention the name of the company and the job title to which you are applying. It should also briefly mention why you are interred in the role.

  7. 4. Body paragraph(s):

  8. The body of your cover letter is the longest section. Expand on the most relevant parts of your experience, skills or education in one or two paragraphs. If you have relevant work experience, use data and metrics in this section to show recruiters the impact your work has had and what you will bring to the table if hired.

  9. 5. Closing paragraph:

  10. Your closing paragraph should briefly summarize the contents of your letter and reiterate your enthusiasm for the role. In this section before the sign-off, you should have a compelling call to action that reiterates why you’re a good fit and invites the hiring manager to schedule an interview with you.

Q: What is the difference between a cover letter and a CV?

Much like a resume, a curriculum vitae or CV, provides an overview of your skills and work history. Unlike a resume or cover letter, a CV goes more in-depth with sections like publications and affiliations to give employers the full scope of your career history and not just a standard snapshot.

In contrast, a cover letter has a narrative structure and is customized around the details in your resume and the company’s specific needs. Most cover letters follow the same business formatting standards falling between 250 and 400 words, point size of 12, easy-to-read font and margins of about one inch all the way around. A standard CV is a minimum of two pages and a maximum of 10, with its use not being standardized in the US. Be sure to read the job description carefully to see if you need to submit a CV or a resume and what sections are required.

Q: How do you know if your cover letter is formatted correctly?

Your cover letter is formatted correctly if you have crafted it following the standard business letter formatting of a readable font size, one-inch margins all the way around and one double-spaced page.

Keep in mind that your resume and cover letter should work together without repeating information so make your fonts and margins the same in both documents. Formatting and readability have become even more important now as employers want more background information to help them decide between qualified candidates.

Companies and individuals considering your resume use ATS software on resumes and cover letters to ensure that a candidate meets the qualifications. Read more about the things you need to know about applicant tracking software.

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