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What Should a Cover Letter Look Like?

A cover letter is likely the first impression you provide a hiring manager or recruiter. Therefore, it is imperative that you provide a document that grabs their attention while also following current guidelines. If you don't, they may not bother to move on to your resume or further evaluate your job application. Consider the following 3 important items so that your cover letter meets the expected standards.


A Cover Letter is a Formal letter

A cover letter is always a formal document and therefore should be written as a business letter. Even if you choose to put it in the body of an email, we suggest you format it as a formal letter. This includes incorporating the address of the person you are sending, just as you would in a real business letter. We have shown an example below to demonstrate this formatting.


Use the exact same formatting for your contact information as you do on your resume. This will ensure that your name and contact information will look the same, providing consistency between the two documents and a professional appearance overall.

example of the header of a cover letter



A Cover Letter is 1 Page in Length

A cover letter is always only one page. This is regardless of how many years of work experience you have, or how many degrees you hold. Keep in mind that your resume can provide additional details that don't fit within the cover letter. You will also have an opportunity to expand on your background and qualifications when you are called into an interview.


General guidelines indicate that a cover letter should be about 250-400 words. A very dense, small font or multiple-page document is unlikely to be read. Therefore, it is worthwhile adhering to the 1-page rule so your content has a higher chance of being evaluated.


A Cover Letter is Well-Formatted

The use of bullets, bolding, and spacing are advised to make it easy to skim and read your cover letter. Cover letters are generally 3 or 4 paragraphs in total. Your letter should not be one huge block of text, but you also don't need 10 separate paragraphs. The goal is to introduce yourself and share what makes you well-suited for the job opening. Then, close with your desire to be interviewed or communicate further about the opportunity.


When Revision Resume creates cover letters for clients, we like to use bullets and bold certain words or phrases. This helps the reader be drawn to important content within the letter. A busy hiring manager may only have time to skim all of the letters on their desk, so formatting appropriately helps key components jump out and increases the likelihood that they will slow down and take a closer look at your letter -- and you as a job candidate!


Would you show up for a job interview in cut-off shorts and an unclean t-shirt? No! A casual, poorly formatted cover letter sends the same unprofessional first impression. Instead, make sure your cover letter meets industry standards and impresses the hiring manager. Follow the above guidelines or, better yet, reach out to Revision Resume for assistance!


Related Reading:


Additional cover letter information can be found here.


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