The Proper Cover Letter Format
Here’s what proper cover letter formatting looks like:
Cover Letter Formatting: Examples
Basic cover letter format
August 31, 2020
[Hiring Manager’s Name]
47 Clinic/Hospital Address
Chicago, IL, 60707
Dear [Mr./Ms./Mrs.] [Hiring Manager’s Name],
As a multi-state Licensed Dentist with 8 years of experience in private practice settings, I’m excited to submit my application for the Clinical Dentist position at [Hospital/Clinic Name].
In my current role, I practice as a managing dentist and clinical dentist with full accountability for managing all general dentistry procedures for a practice grossing over $3 mil. annually. In this role, I conduct comprehensive, periodic, and emergency examinations, diagnose patients’ dental conditions, and present comprehensive treatment plans.
In addition, I take great pride in delivering exceptional care to all patients by maintaining a patient-centered service environment. Please consider the following highlights of my career:
- Received numerous awards in Removable Prosthodontics and Periodontics
- Licensed to Practice Dentistry in Texas and Indiana
- Managed 1,000+ complex cases
I look forward to an opportunity to discuss my qualifications in further detail soon. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Modern cover letter format
For more casual industries, like marketing or graphic design, feel free to use a more eye-catching cover letter template:
[Hiring Manager’s Name]
[City, State, Zip Code]
[Hiring Manager’s Email]
Dear [Mr./Mrs./Ms.] [Hiring Manager’s Surname],
I’ve been in the kitchen since I was five years old, so I’d be thrilled to bring a lifetime of passion for food to [Restaurant Name] as your new Line Cook. With an associate’s degree in culinary arts, ACF certification, and 5 years of experience in Cajun, Creole, and Middle Eastern cuisines, I’m confident that I’ll be a strong candidate for the role.
As a line cook at Upperline restaurant, I’m known for delivering quality dishes that consistently garner praise from patrons. I also bring a proven ability to save thousands of dollars by reducing food waste, improving cooking processes, and negotiating with vendors.
During my career, I’ve shown outstanding attention to detail in preparing, cooking, and presenting food, evident by the following achievements:
- Contributing to a 20% increase in monthly reservations through word of mouth from satisfied patrons
- Reducing projected yearly costs by an average of $90K for 3 consecutive years
- Representing Upperline restaurant on local TV, newspapers, and charity events
Cooking isn’t a job to me but a lifestyle. I often experiment with ingredients and flavors to come up with new dishes or improve existing ones on my days off. Furthermore, I enjoy training junior line cooks on recipes, techniques, and best practices.
I’m positive that I’ll be an asset to [Restaurant Name]’s brigade. I look forward to meeting you to learn more about the position. You may reach me by phone at (895) 555-555 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an interview.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
How to format a cover letter
A cover letter needs the following seven parts (we’ve listed them from top to bottom):
1. Contact details
At the top of your cover letter, include the following information:
- Name: Your full name should be the focal point of your cover letter header (use a large font size and bold text)
- Phone number: If you’re applying for a job in a different city, state, or country, include your area/country code
- Email address: Use a professional email address such as email@example.com
- Online profile: Include a link to work-relevant online profiles, such as your personal website or LinkedIn profile
2. Hiring Manager’s Address and Date
Next, list today’s date followed by the employer’s contact information, leaving a space between the date and the hiring manager’s name. Structure this part of your cover letter like this:
- Today’s date
- Hiring manager’s name
- Company name
- Company street address
- Company city, state, and ZIP code
Ideally, you should address your cover letter to the hiring manager. To find out their name, look for it in the job description or on the company’s website. If you still can’t find it, try calling the company and asking for the hiring manager’s name.
If none of these strategies work, avoid using a generic greeting such as “To Whom It May Concern,”. Instead, customize your cover letter salutation to the team or department you’re applying for, such as by using “Dear Accounting Director,” or “Dear Accounting Team,” or “Dear Hiring Manager,”.
4. Introduction paragraph
The first paragraph of your cover letter should:
- Grab the hiring manager’s attention
- Provide a self-introduction
- List the position you’re applying for
- Describe where you found the job posting
It’s also important to express your excitement for the position when starting your cover letter.
For example, check out this candidate’s professional yet charismatic introduction:
I’m applying for the position of dental assistant at [Clinic Name]. I noticed your job posting on [Website Name] and am happy to say that my 4+ years of dental assistant experience matches your clinic’s needs perfectly.
If you’ve been referred to the role by a mutual contact of the hiring manager, include this information in the first paragraph of your cover letter.
5. Second paragraph
Now that you’ve introduced yourself, highlight your experience and accomplishments to further impress the hiring manager. Use the skills, experience, and qualifications listed in the job description for ideas as you write your cover letter to show you’re a good match for the role.
You can even connect the accomplishments on your resume to the goals of your target company in your cover letter.
For example, watch how this candidate sells their relevant skills:
I noticed in your job description that you’re looking for a candidate who requires little training and supervision. After accumulating 4+ years of dental assistant experience, I can guarantee you that I’m comfortable handling routines related to patient care, record keeping, scheduling, billing, and even inventory maintenance completely on my own.
To exceed the expectations of the hiring manager, research your potential employer. Determine the current state of the industry, the company’s position in the market, and if possible, its future plans. Write a paragraph detailing how you fit into its plan. Explain how you can assist it in reaching their future goals.
6. Final paragraph with a call to action
Next, end your cover letter with a strong concluding paragraph that:
- Thanks the hiring manager for their time and consideration
- Restates your contact information, including your phone number and email address
- Finishes with a compelling call-to-action that prompts the hiring manager to invite you in for an interview.
For example, check out this candidate’s enthusiastic yet professional closing:
Thank you for considering my application. I’d love to join the team at [Clinic Name]. I’m looking forward to having a more detailed discussion with you about how I can join your team and help you achieve your goals. Feel free to contact me at (555) 047-1701 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Before signing your cover letter, close it by writing “Sincerely,” and then leaving a gap of three to four lines. Then type out your name.
You can print out your cover letter and sign your name in the gap you left. Or you can use an electronic signature if you prefer.
Professional cover letter formatting tips
- Font style: Keep your cover letter font professional. Use a conventional font such as Times New Roman, Helvetica, Arial or Verdana. Avoid fancy fonts because they will come across as unprofessional to hiring managers — and might not get picked up by applicant tracking systems.
- Font size: Use no larger than a 12-point font and no smaller than a 10.5-point font. Small fonts cause hiring managers to strain their eyes, while larger fonts are unprofessional.
- Margins: Use cover letter margins between 1” and 1.5”. If you’re running out of space, it’s okay to adjust the margins. However, avoid large adjustments that make your letter look too thin or too full.
- Spacing: Proper cover letter spacing requires you to leave space between each part of your cover letter. Specifically, Leave space between the date, recipient’s address, salutation, body paragraphs, sign-off, signature, and your name.
- File format: If you’re submitting a digital copy of your cover letter, submit your cover letter in a PDF or DOCX format. PDFs can’t be easily modified by others, don’t pose compatibility issues, and can be read by applicant tracking systems.
- Naming your file: When saving your cover letter as a PDF, make sure to use an appropriate name such as Your-Name-Job-Title-Cover-Letter.PDF.
Cover letter formatting for email cover letters
If you’re required to send your cover letter in the body of an email (not as an attachment), the format of your email cover letter will look something like this:
Cover Letter Format for an Email
- Subject line — Use a professional subject line that clearly states the position titles and your name.
- Salutation – Begin your cover letter email by politely addressing the hiring manager by name (for example, “Dear Ms. Prudence,”)
- The “Intro” paragraph – Introduce yourself and express your interest in the position.
- The “Hard Sell” paragraph – Prove how qualified you are. Reference the job posting.
- The “Action” paragraph – Thank the hiring manager and express interest in an interview.
- Sign-off — ”Sincerely,” is standard for cover letters, but “Best wishes,” “Cordially,” and “Best regards” are also acceptable for email cover letters.
- Contact information – Provide your contact information at the bottom of your email.
There’s no need to include the date or the hiring manager’s contact information.
Here’s an example of a cover letter in email form:
Once you’ve properly formatted your cover letter, you should double-check for spelling and typos (get someone to do a final check). Then send it off. Good luck on the job hunt!