Formatting the Cover Letter

Although the content of your cover letter is most important when it comes to interview decisions, poor formatting can make it so recruiters don’t even glance at your letter. Here are a few tips for ensuring that your content can truly shine.

Contact Info

The first item on your cover letter should be your name and contact information. You can either copy and paste this from your resume or format it with block letters. Either way, make sure it matches up with what is on your resume – it would be an oversight to list different phone numbers or email addresses.

Date and Employer\’s Information

Next, include the date you are sending the letter. It should be fully spelled out rather than abbreviated (“February 14, 2010”).After the date, include the employer’s contact information. If the listing includes a specific person to address the letter to, include their name and title. Remember that you do not need to list their phone number or email address, just the physical address.

If you are not given the employer’s contact information, you have a few options. At the very least, search for the employer’s mailing address – this is easy to find so it should definitely be included. If you can, try and find out the name of the hiring manager for your position. You could look on the company’s website, search similar job postings from the same company, or call the company and ask. If you manage to find their information, it shows you have put in effort and you are serious about the position. If you absolutely cannot find the hiring manager’s information, then just state “Hiring Manager” instead.


Finally, the last piece of formatting necessary before beginning your letter’s content is the salutation. This is typically “Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,” but if you do not have the contact person’s information, say “Dear Hiring Manager.” Remember to end this with a colon to indicate that it is a business letter. Avoid phrases like “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” because they are less specific than “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Following these tips will ensure that your cover letter doesn’t get passed over for one with correct formatting. While content is most important, poor formatting can hurt your chances of getting the job.

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