When writing a cover letter (as you should do each time you submit a resume as part of a job application), the layout of your letter is very important. Layout refers to the way the words are set up on the page, including headings, spacing, and font. You want to use a layout that makes your letter both easy to read and professional.
Read below for advice about how to lay out your letter, as well as a template for a cover letter.
Cover Letter Layout Tips
When laying out a cover letter, you want to follow the layout of a typical business letter.
A business letter begins with your contact information, and then the employer’s contact information.
It's important to properly space the layout of the cover letters you send, with space between the heading, the greeting, each paragraph, the closing, and your signature. Single space your letter and leave a space between each paragraph. Also, remember to left-justify your entire letter.
When selecting a font, use a simple font like Arial, Verdana, Courier New, or Times New Roman. Your font size should be no smaller than 10-pt. but no larger than 12-pt. In choosing your font size, 12 pt. is probably the best – you don’t want to irritate a hiring manager by making him or her have to squint to read your font.
How to Use a Cover Letter Template
The cover letter template below shows the layout for a typical cover letter.
Use the template to structure your own cover letter. It will give you advice on how to space your letter, what font to use, and how to justify your page.
The template also briefly describes what kind of content should go in each paragraph. Use this information to help you begin writing your own letter, tailored to reflect your own career history, professional qualifications, hard and soft skills, and your knowledge about the job and employer to which you are applying.
You can also review examples of cover letters for advice on how to word your cover letter.
When using a format or a sample letter, remember to be flexible. You can add or remove paragraphs to fit the needs of the particular job description. Also, keep in mind that your best strategy is to write a customized cover letter for each job to which you are applying. Hiring managers can tell when they’ve been sent a generic cover letter; they are more likely to be interested in candidates who have taken the time to write unique letters that specifically address the job opening they are offering.
Cover Letter Template with Layout
The first section of your cover letter should include information on how the employer can contact you.
If you have contact information for the employer, include that. Otherwise, just list your information.
This section should be single-spaced and left-justified, with a space between your contact information and your employer’s contact information.
Your Contact Information
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address
Employer Contact Information
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
Each of your body paragraphs should be single-spaced, with a space between each paragraph. The first paragraph of your cover letter should include information on the position you are applying for, including the job title. You should state how you heard about the job, and (briefly) explain why you think you are an ideal candidate for the position.
(space between paragraphs)
The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Mention why you are qualified for the job and how your skills and experience are a match for the position for which you are applying. Provide specific examples to prove your skills and experience; these examples will “pop” on the page if you provide them in a bulleted format.
(space between paragraphs)
Conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow up with them regarding the status of your application.
Handwritten Signature (for a mailed letter)
More on Writing Cover Letters:
How to Write a Successful Cover Letter
What to Include in a Cover Letter
Sample Cover Letters
It’s a good time to be a job seeker: U.S. job growth is strong, unemployment is on a steady decline, and openings are at an all-time high.
That doesn’t make the search any less daunting. Differentiating yourself from every other job seeker on the market is no small feat, and the monotony of filling out online applications can make the task downright exhausting. That’s where a killer cover letter comes in.
Done right, a great cover letter is like a secret weapon for catching a hiring manager’s attention. Next to your resume, it’s one of the most important, underutilized tools at your disposal.
Here are some cover letter writing tips, and a free, downloadable template, to make yours stand out.
Every cover letter you write should be tailored to the job you’re applying for — just like your resume. Study the job posting carefully, and make a quick list of any essential qualifications.
“Job seekers really struggle with what to say on a cover letter,” says Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, President and CEO of Great Resumes Fast. “Taking a second to think about why you’re applying, and why you’re a good fit for the company, makes the process a lot easier.”
If you’re adding a cover letter to an online application, use a business letter format with a header and contact information. If you’re sending an email, it’s OK to leave out the header, but be sure to provide a phone number (and an attached resume, of course). Make sure you’re clear about the position you’re applying for.
Avoid nameless salutations — it might take a little Google research, and some LinkedIn outreach, but finding the actual name of the position’s hiring manager will score you major brownie points. “Do not start a cover letter with, ‘to whom it may concern,’” Holbrook Hernandez says. “It concerns no one.”
2. Tell a Story
To grab a recruiter’s attention, a good narrative—with a killer opening line—is everything.
“The cover letter is a story,” says Satjot Sawhney, a resume and career strategist with Loft Resumes. “What is the most interesting thing you’re doing that’s relevant to this job?” Use that to guide your letter.
Ideally, the story that drives your resume will focus on a need at the company you’re applying for. If you’re a PR professional, maybe you have a list of clients in an industry the team wants to break into. If you’re in marketing, a successful promotional campaign might be the ticket in. “A hiring manager wants to see results-driven accomplishments with a past employer,” says Holbrook Hernandez. “If you’ve done it before, you can deliver it again.”
If you have a career gap or are switching industries, address it upfront. “If there’s anything unique in your career history, call that out in the beginning,” says professional resume writer Brooke Shipbaugh.
(Here’s a downloadable sample.)
3. Use Bullet Points to Show Impact
Hiring managers are usually slammed with applications, so short, quick cover letters are preferable to bloated ones, says Paul Wolfe, Senior Vice President of human resources at job site Indeed.
“Make your cover letter a brief, bright reference tool,” he says. “The easier you can make it on the recruiter the better.”
Bullet points are a good tool for pulling out numbers-driven results. Job seekers in creative fields like art and design can use bullets to break down their most successful project. Those in more traditional roles (like the one in the template), can hammer off two or three of their most impressive accomplishments.
4. Highlight Culture Fit
It’s often overlooked, but a major function of the cover letter is to show a company how well you’d mesh with the culture.
As you research a potential employer, look for culture cues on the company website, social media, and review sites like Glassdoor. Oftentimes, employers will nod to culture in a job posting. If the ad mentions a “team environment,” it might be good to play up a recent, successful collaboration. If the company wants a “self-starter,” consider including an achievement that proves you don’t need to be micromanaged.
The tone of your letter can also play to culture. “The cover letter is a great place to show [an employer] how you fit into their world,” Shipbaugh says. “Show some personality.”
5. End with an Ask
The goal of a cover letter is to convince the person reading it to make the next move in the hiring process — with a phone call, interview, or otherwise. Ending on a question opens that door without groveling for it.
“You have to approach this with a non-beggar mentality,” Sawhney says. “Having an ‘ask’ levels the playing field.”
Related: What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2018