Use these cover letter tips for writing a cover letter so your job application gets noticed by prospective employers.
Cover letter tips
The following are some tips to make your cover letter the best it can be.
Gather all necessary information first
This includes the job description, name of the hiring manager, and any other research you have gathered about the company.
Some employers may want you to provide additional materials, such as writing samples, with your resume. Others might not accept applications that are sent via email. Before you respond to any job posting, read the directions carefully so you can provide exactly what is required.
Address your letter to a specific individual
If this is not possible, use a gender-neutral greeting, like Dear Hiring Manager or Staff Selection Team.
Write a rough draft
Focus on the purpose of each paragraph:
- In the first paragraph, introduce yourself, indicate the desired position, and explain how you came to know about the position.
- In the second paragraph, sell yourself as the ideal candidate by matching your experience with employer needs.
- In the final paragraph, request action on the part of the employer or explain what actions you will be taking to progress in the job search process.
Use good writing techniques
Characteristics of good writing for cover letters include:
- Using bullet points or bold text to highlight your qualifications
- Using concise and clear language; keep it to one page and focus on what you have to offer an employer
- Using correct grammar; have at least two strong writers edit and proofread your cover letter, and do not rely solely on a spell checker
- Using active verbs in the present tense to illustrate your skills; for example, I consistently exceed customer expectations by offering personal attention and product expertise.
- Varying your word choice; for example, if your specialty is product line management, try to find another phrase for the same function, such as family branding
Format your cover letter to be easy to read
This should be done only after you are completely satisfied with the content of your rough draft.
- Use default margins (1.25” for the right and left margins, 1” for the bottom margin).
- Single-space paragraphs.
- Double-space after the date, each address, the greeting, and each paragraph.
- Leave enough space for your signature.
- Use bold for emphasis and quick reading. Hiring managers will be skimming the letter, so anything you can do to make your qualifications stand out will help focus their attention on you.
- Use a default font that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Tahoma.
Note: Our Microsoft Office tutorials cover formatting in more depth.
Consider using resume paper
If you want to make your application look extra nice, you can print your cover letter and resume on resume paper. Resume paper is sometimes also known as business or specialty paper, and it is thicker and rougher than regular printer paper. However, it's also more expensive, so you may not want to use it for every job application.