COVER LETTER HELP

The 19 Best Cover Letter Formatting Tips

Make sure your cover letter doesn't end up in the "REJECTED" pile with these time-proven cover letter tips.

Writing an enticing cover letter means you won’t end up in the “REJECTED” pile. In this article, we’ll give you tips on how to write a cover letter that gets noticed, read, and remembered. We gathered our career counselling experts and they prepared 27 tips that will make your application letter shine and save you the trouble of starting on the wrong foot.

Down the page we’ll cover the following things:

Formatting

  • What font to use for your cover letter;
  • How to match the design of your resume and cover letter;
  • Tricks to make a beautiful header;
  • How to keep the length to a single page.

Content

  • How to write a good cover letter salutation;
  • The secrets of writing a solid introduction sentence;
  • What to put in the body of your letter;
  • The difference between a letter of introduction for a start-up and a corporation;
  • Cover letters examples for your level of experience.

19 Proven Tips for Formatting Your Cover Letter

Formatting a polished cover letter isn't exactly an easy feat. Although the writing style is essential, the cover letter template you choose determines if you get to keep the hiring manager's attention. So, please do not ignore this aspect, as it's part of the holistic impression.

You can generally think of your application document design as the clothes you'd wear for an interview. Of course, you can't rely entirely on them to do the whole job, but they can certainly help you!

Here's how you can make the most of it!

Cover Letter Design Tips

From formatting your cover letter to choosing the right font – every little detail in your application letter plays a huge role into how the hiring manager perceives you.

Choose The Right Font

You would be surprised to hear how often HRs share applicants use the wrong font – like Cursive, Serif, or too a font that’s too small. Inappropriate formatting significantly downgrades your text's readability.

What is the best standard?

Opt for sans-serif, simple font styles like Times New Roman, Calibri, Rubik or Arial with a recommended size of 10-12 points. Clean fonts allow for a good reading speed and focus on the essence of what you've got to offer.

Further reading:

Craft a Beautiful Cover Letter Header

Your cover letter header has only one purpose – give the most vital information upfront. That means in order to make a good header, you have to include:

  • Your name and surname;
  • A professional headshot (or skip it if you’re applying to a US company);
  • Contact details - email, address, and an up-to-date phone number;
  • Portfolio link or your LinkedIn profile;

You can also find how a cover letter should look like for your particular industry, by exploring our cover letter examples or dive deeper intro the topic of how to build a good cover letter header.

Use Colors Tastefully

Although cover letters are a form of official business communication, you can get away by adding a bit of color to yours. It’s best if you can match the colors of your cover letter to the ones you use on your resume.

Ideally, stick to more neutral colors – beige, blue, or grey for example. Going with more bold colors can be okay for some more creative industries, but overall you should decide based on the company you’re applying at.

To learn more about designing a good application, check our guide on cover letter design.

Match The Design of Your Cover Letter to Your Resume.

Make reading your application a cohesive experience for the recruitment manager by having a matching resume and cover letter.

pro tip icon
Pro Tip

The easiest way to make a matching application is by using our resume builder and cover letter builder. You can use our pre-designed templates and focus only on the most important part of your application – the content.

Select The Highlights of Your Career

It’s true that recruiters will thank you if you skip the rambling and simply focus your cover letter on one single accomplishment that is directly related to the job position you’re applying for.

Keep things to just a single page in length. You should be able to tell your story in no more than 350 words. For more information, check our guide on cover letter length.

Tips for Writing a Cover Letter Introduction That Grabs The Reader

The first sentence on your cover letter will be the one that should grab the attention of the hiring manager. Yet, a lot of applicants have no idea how they should start their application letter. Here are some tips:

Establish Rapport From The Start

It boils down to opening with the right salutation. Some general rules for your consideration. “Dear Mr./ Mrs. (last name)” is the ideal format you would need to follow in case you have the recruiter's name.

If you don't know their name, try to find it by researching the company online or calling the HR department directly. If you still hit a wall, opt for salutations that address the whole team, like “Dear Hiring team” or “Dear Hiring Manager.”

However, stay away from the outdated impersonal forms like "To whom it may concern." They’re vague and impersonal, suggesting that you used a templated cover letter for every job you apply for. You can learn more about how to address a cover letter in our in-depth guide.

Start Your Cover Letter With a Strong Introduction

Like a coffee lover who adores the taste of espresso Intenso, any recruiter is craving to finally read an original and savvy cover letter after months of browsing through lukewarm applications.

So, here is what, according to me as a recruiter, makes a cover letter that I’ll remember and would make me pick up the phone and do that pre-screen phone call.

Explain courteously how did you hear about the job. HRs keep track of the most working candidate sourcing channels, so they will be grateful if you share whether you came across the position on Linkedin, Monster Board, Glassdoor, the company website, or maybe it was featured in Enhancv’s dashboard.

Moreover, if a current employee referred you for the role, highlight it in the first couple of sentences. Research shows that HRs are much more inclined to hire people recommended by employees. They know workers are the best organizational culture ambassadors in pre-selecting well-suited candidates.

Professional presentation of your top skills. “Aces” position you as a precious expert with all it takes to "wear" the role like a second skin. An outstanding presentation gives you more power, hence confidence, and ultimately better potential to get hired. Your professional summary is the sparkly crown of your cover letter! Everything in it transmits value.

Shoot your selling point first – your blaze of glory. Answer the following questions:

  • WHO are you?
  • WHAT skills make you a great hire?
  • HOW will you make a difference in the organization?

Tips for Writing a Cover Letter Body

The body section of your cover letter is the one that requires the most substance. You have to communicate your accomplishment, show your personality, and entice the reader all in a single page. This leaves just a few sentences for your body paragraph. Here’s how to make the most out of it.

Don’t Repeat the Same Things From Your Resume

A cover letter should expand on your resume without repeating what the recruiter has already learned by reading your resume.

Instead, focus your cover letter on a single achievement from a previous job that is highly relevant to the position you’re applying for. Then give concrete examples of how you made it happen and what the results were.

The Power of Knowing the Industry as You Know Yourself

Alternatively, if you can't gather enough relative info, use your other aces – training, awards, competitions, featured publications, and impressive portfolio. You can also refer to actual issues from the business sector.

Moreover, have you solved challenges like the ones the company you’re applying at may have at the moment? "Pack" it as added value and sell it.

Tips for writing a good cover letter ending.

Knowing how to end a cover letter is just as important as how you start it. You don’t want to leave the reader (aka the hiring manager) standing, thinking wether they should call you or not. You should make them want to call you just as they’re reading your closing words.

Stay Grounded

Looking for a job can sometimes be more nerve-wracking than we wish. Rejections would sometimes fly your way like bombs, which can temporarily deem the blue horizon of your future career perspectives.

That is why it is necessary to make the best effort to stay grounded through the job search process. Job coaching or interview mock preparation are fantastic tools to stay more connected to your value than your perceived limitations.

However, there is one more trick to it. That brings us to the next point.

  1. ### Say NO to needy, predictable, safe, and boring writing!

Say “no” to predictable, safe, and boring writing! Did you know that on what note you will end your cover letter can also create a strong impression and predisposition towards you?

The key is to show proactiveness, enthusiasm, inspiration, and self-esteem without sounding needy.

You don't want to appear pushy, indecisive, or uninterested.

Compare, for example:

I am excited to bring to the table my set of Creative Artist skills to the B-Architecten multidisciplinary team. It is invigorating to see your always self-renewing, exploratory and reflective mode of co-working and capacity building, which is the entry pass to the imaginative world for any aspiring and committed design artist and architect. I am happy to discuss B-Architecten's projects and our mutual collaboration. I would be happy to have the opportunity to show you how, through my lead in CEZ Electrics, I saved 2 000 000 families in San Francisco from meeting the New 2020 without electricity.
I am eager to learn more about this role and share why my clients say I am the absolute "Goddess of Copywriting.”
I would love to speak with you about the role in person. I will schedule a call to discuss matters the following week.

Which one makes you curious and puts a smile on your face? If you were an HR, which copy would convince you to pick up the phone and call? When done right, the end of the cover letter not just excites your reader and lights a spark in them! The proper cover letter final is a promise of something great coming up!

pro tip icon
Pro Tip

Keep the closure formal as much as possible. Good examples for you to consider are any of those:

  • Respectfully
  • Sincerely
  • Thank you for your consideration
  • Best Regards

Don't introduce the more informal closures like:

  • Warmest regards
  • Warmly
  • Ciao
  • Yours faithfully
  • Take it easy
  • Cheers

Cover letter tips by type of company you’re applying to.

Just as important as making a unique cover letter for each job position you apply, you should tailor the application latter to the type of company you’re applying at. More creative fields will give you more freedom as to the tone of voice you can use, whilst a more traditional industry might call for a more professional application.

You Can Be a Bit More Casual When Applying at a Startup or a Tech Company

Who wouldn't want to work fully remote for a cool ultra-modern start-up, especially after the COVID-19 Pandemic and the consequent "big resignation"? Walking in flip-flops or (even) a pajama on a rooftop work terrace - once a month or whenever you like is enticing. If you aspire to join such a work environment, introduce a friendlier tone! Typically start-ups have a very flat structure - almost no hierarchy and they are more open to letting diversity permeate and renovate them!

So do you have quirks or rare talents that make you unique - intertwine them in your answer.

Convince HR you're not a 9-to-5-kind-of-person and why your experience, combined with your love for start-up life, makes you the best fit!

When Applying to a Corporation

Does the word "Corporate" strike an association with suits and business-y blue for you? Your Cover letter to a Corporate should also reflect this formal flavor. To present yourself as HR`s TOP candidate, keep these rules in mind:

  • Use a proper Business format for your Cover letter;
  • Include a professional header with your name and details;
  • Don't get too experimentative with design;
  • Keep storytelling well-balanced;
  • Accentuate skills like consistency and organization;
  • Sell your extensive Corporate experience.

Cover Letter Tips Depending on How Many Years of Experience You Have

Depending on how long you’ve been apart of the working force, there are some things that you can do to boost your chances of getting a callback.

As an Intern It’s Best to Be Smart About the Tone of Voice You Use

If you are a beginner, you don't have the professional base to establish yourself in the so-called managerial tone. Instead, you should adhere to an enthusiasm-infused tone. On the contrary, if you are a Senior expert, it matches your profile to speak, act and write from a respectful yet managerial (e.g., professional) tone. Be aware of mixing the two tones, as that may not be perceived well. For example, you would puzzle more than just 1 HR if you're a seasoned expert, yet your Cover letter sounds overly excited like from a rookie. The opposite would not work out either - newbie positioning him- or herself in the Pros league.

If You’re a More Experienced Worker, Assertiveness Is Gold

The TOP experts communicate value with years of experience and command respect from a position of authority and scarcity. For example, the Senior experienced ICT, Cybersecurity, and AI developers do not compete for jobs. Instead, the companies fight to get them!

Although you may not be a Senior expert in the highly sought-after ICT sector, assertiveness if your best friend! And that applies to any age range from sophomore students to Senior applicants.

If you are a Senior Experienced worker, here is how you can raise your stakes:

  • Bring focus on the vast network you built through your career;
  • Hand in a polished Cover letter that compliments your technical skills;
  • Don't go too wild with salary expectations, but don't fall below a certain self-respectful minimum.

Lastly, keep in mind that some countries, like The Netherlands, have a unique national policy that guarantees by law the provision of higher salaries for Senior experienced workers, increasing more and more with the years of experience. So do your preliminary research.

Cover Letter Tips for Executives

As you can imagine, writing a cover letter for a CEO, VP, or CFO role is a different ball game.

Check our cheat sheet below to be an absolute rock star.

Checklist icon
Executive Cover Letter Cheat Sheet
  • Make your accomplishments visible
  • Demonstrate leadership and decision-power with suitable examples
  • Use active verbiage – chaired, managed, authorized, approved, founded
  • Quote stats in your favor
  • Don't fall into the bragging trap
  • People skills, people skills, people skills

To differentiate from the other TOP level VPs and ensure you don't appear like a self-centered or toxic leader, translate your expertise into storytelling for EQ leadership.

Keep the focus on the human processes` improvements you help solidify for your team or the whole organization.

Cover Letter Tips for Career Changers

Own your story

If you transition from another career path, you cannot write the type of Cover letter a Senior level expert would. However, that is not necessarily bad if you own your story and impress HR with your dedication.

For example, are you an Accountant who has always dreamed of working in Childcare? Sell that!

Have transferable skills? Bring that on!

Brag about any of those - volunteer experience, broad research of the company, previous experience with the organization.

Not running away from, but moving forward to

One of the best driving forces for a career change is the impulse for growth and personal development! Be clear, stay positive, and speak respectfully about your current and past jobs.

Make sure your whole Cover letter transmits the message that you don't either flee from a toxic boss or intend to do job-hopping, but instead that this is a well-thought-of, planned, and sincerely wanted career move.

Why will you make it a success?

What's your recipe for success in this new challenge? Analyze and promote your strengths, demonstrate a clear plan to mitigate your weaknesses, and propel yourself forward.

In Summary

There you have it - 27 invaluable tips from Enhancv on how to write a memorable Cover letter in any possible job hunt scenario.

In short, you take home the following "goodies": choose readable formats, match your Cover letter and Resume design without repeating them, present your TOP match skills in a strong introduction and sell your value proposition promise to the company, regardless of your level of expertise or age.

Do you want to elevate your candidature today, regardless of your level of expertise?

Then, give our FREE cover letter builder a try.

Make your move!
Your resume is an extension of yourself.
Make one that's truly you.
Author image
Liliya Foteva
Work Psychologist and Grant writer with 10 yrs experience in the Corporate & Social domain. Communication is my middle name! I love to travel, read (usually a la playa :) ) and chill with friends!
Guide icon
Cover Letter Guides