How to Write a Cover Letter: Formatting and Personalization

Vintage Inscription Made By Old Typewriter


Many people feel a little stumped when it comes to writing a cover letter. What can you say that you haven’t already said in your resume? Do you just repeat the details you’ve already given your employer? Or do you risk sending in something short or skipping the cover letter altogether? There are times when writing a good cover letter can really help you to stand out from the crowd. Since most people don’t put much effort into cover letters, you can distinguish yourself by sending in something elegantly written and personalized. Here are a few tips on how to write a cover letter:

Format it Correctly

It’s quite surprising how many people don’t realize the mechanics of writing a business letter. You need to put your name and address at the top, either in the center or on one side of the page. Follow this with a line break and the date. After this comes the company’s name and address, another line break and the subject line where you can write “job application” or specify the position/job code you are applying for. Then you start the letter with “Dear Mr./Ms. (Name of person you are addressing):” and follow this up with the body of the letter. Keep in mind that a colon, and not a comma, should follow the name of the person you are addressing. When you’re finished with the body of the letter, you can end it with a closing remark like “Sincerely” or “Best Regards.” Remember to leave a space to sign the letter before printing your name. Cover letters should not exceed one page as a rule.


First of all, you need to make sure you know the name of the person that you’re writing to. If this is not given in the advertisement you’re responding to, you can call the company and find out. The “Dear Sir/Madam” salutation is only to be used in the worst case scenario. Plus, if you know any details about that person’s work or what the company does, in general, and you have something interesting and useful to say about it, feel free to put this in your cover letter. Of course, you should also use this space to tell the company how exactly you feel you will be able to contribute to their overall functioning, given your specific qualifications.

Although you’re applying for a job in a company, you’re writing to an individual. So don’t write in a completely impersonal way. Of course, you need to maintain a certain level of professionalism. You can’t write the way you would to your best buddy. At the same time, it’s a good idea to have a few personal touches in there.

Make it Relevant

It’s easy to get lost in your own qualifications and trying to draw yourself in the best light. But don’t forget to draw parallels between your expertise and how you can help fill their very specific needs as well. Use the job description as a rough guide. For example, if “teamwork” is mentioned as a necessity more than twice, construct language around your strong productivity in a team environment. Generally, you want to address the first two or three bullets of the “requirements” section. Read between the lines and find an area in which you have demonstrated experience in the position they are trying fill.

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