Cover Letter Format & Samples
Cover letters are a tool of introduction in the job search and are just as important as your resume. The best cover letters are addressed to a particular person, and are tailored to present your qualifications in relation to the specific job and company of interest. Check out our comprehensive Job Search Letters guide for more information on cover letters and other job search documents.
Cover Letter Tips
- All margins should be approximately one-inch. Typically, a cover letter consists of three to four paragraphs.
- The font size should be easy to read. Times, Palatino or Helvetica are good choices. A font size of 12 pt. is preferable, but in some cases you may need to use 10 or 11 pt. font.
- Don't be tempted to send "generic" letters. Each cover letter you write should be different, because each job and company you're writing to is different. Make it easy for the reader to see the relevance of your qualifications to the job in question.
- Be sure to proofread each new cover letter you create so that it is letter perfect.
- It is important to write to a specific person whenever possible.
The following example reflects the correct business format to use when writing a cover letter:
City, State, Zip
Name of the contact person
City, State, Zip
Dear Mr. or Ms. Last Name:
The opening paragraph states your reason for writing the letter. Mention a specific job of interest, or a particular department in which you are seeking work. If possible, mention how and when you learned about the job opening or the company, i.e., through a classified advertisement, a contact person or a career services professional. Be sure to mention the name of the person who suggested this job to you, especially if that person is highly respected within the company.
The middle paragraph is an opportunity to expand on the skills you have developed as they relate to this position. This should not merely repeat your resume. You can discuss your education and particular courses or skills attained while in college. If you're an experienced person, you may wish to use this paragraph to describe your professional background and highlight any specific job experience that may be of particular interest to the organization and that will differentiate you from other applicants. You may need a second paragraph to fully describe your related abilities.
The next paragraph reflects the research you have done on that particular organization. Use company literature, a web site, or conversation with an employee of the organization as ways to gain knowledge about the organization. Explain why you are interested in the job, and convey your awareness of what the company does to show that you have done careful research.
In closing, ask for an interview. Either state a specific week you'll make a follow-up phone call or mention an interest in having the contacted person call to set up an interview date. Specify how you can be contacted. Remember to thank the person for considering your application.