Formatting Your Cover Letter

You’re getting your materials together to apply to an amazing job or internship, and then you see the job description requires that you send a cover letter as well – and you don’t even know what a cover letter looks like.  Don’t panic!  Business cover letters are really straightforward, and once you’ve written one, you can use that same letter and change it around for other job opportunities you’re interested in, too.  Here’s a quick rundown on how to format your cover letter within business standards. 

The top of your cover letter should look like the top of your resume – your name on the top line, then your address, and then any social media addresses you’d like to include. 

Then, hit the return key twice, and starting all the way over to the left, add today’s date. 

Now add the business’ address.  Underneath the date, and still justified to the left, list the name of the contact person listed on the position, and add their job title (“Human Resources Manager,” “Campus Recruiter,” “Talent Acquisition”) below that.  Hit the return key again, and add the name of the company, and under that, the street address, then city, state, and zip code.  If the job listing doesn’t include the company’s street address, just Google the company’s address and use either their local address or corporate headquarters address. 

Hit Return twice again, and add the greeting for the letter.  Try to use a person’s name here whenever possible, instead of a blanket “To Whom It May Concern”.  If there isn’t a contact name listed in the job posting, “Dear Hiring Manager” is an acceptable option. 

Once you’ve added your 3-4 paragraphs talking about your enthusiasm for the position, and highlighting relevant points that may not appear on your resume, you’re ready to close.  You can type “Sincerely” or “Best Regards”, and then your name just as it appears at the top of your letter. 

Now that you’ve got the format set, feel free to go to the Center for Career Development’s Resume & Cover Letter Guide for tips on how to tailor your cover letter to the position you’re applying for, and sample cover letters for inspiration.  Good luck!   

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

By Kathleen Powell
Kathleen Powell Front Desk Operations Assistant