Cover letter formatting guidelines for job applications

By | May 15, 2017

An ideal cover letter format can be divided into many essential sections. However, the sections vary according to whether it is a printed or email cover letter. The main sections are:

Subject line/ Reference line

The subject line in an email is the same as the Reference line in a hard copy application.  An ideal subject line or reference line will mention the position you are interested in along with your full name and, if required, your highest qualification (either the years of work experience or the academic degree). This line should provide the recruiter an idea of what is to be expected. In a Reference line, you may write key words in bold like the position applying for.

Example of a subject line:

Application for Software Developer position – James Alfred – PHP developer with 5 years’ experience

Contact information

This block includes your full name, residing address, phone number and email address for employers to contact you.

Application Date

This section contains the date of sending the application in any accepted format like 15-May-2017, 15.05.2017 etc.

Recruiter’s address

Include this block only if you have the details of the hiring manager. Otherwise, skip this section entirely. Generally speaking, this section should contain the name or designation of the recruiter and company address.

Salutation

Your cover letter is addressed to the hiring manager. Hence, include an appropriate salutation with the right personal title like Mr., Ms., Mrs. Etc. or official title like Dr., Prof. etc. If you do not know the gender of the recruiter, you may address using the person’s full name. Again, if you fail to find out the name of the hiring manager, either skip the salutation altogether and proceed straight away to the cover letter content or use a generic salutation like Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Hiring Manager.

Opening paragraph

The first paragraph of your cover letter should mention your motive of sending the email. Specify which position you are interested in, your highest professional or educational qualification whichever is relevant in your case, in addition to how you came to know of the job opening. Also, if you were referred by someone, mention the person’s name also here.

Leading paragraphs

In the following paragraphs, elaborate on your qualifications and skills and how they would cater to the requirement of the job position. Remember not to use this section to brag about all the skills and expertise you possess. Instead, speak about only those that are absolutely related to the job and remember to always try and link them to the requirements in the job listing so that the employer knows how you can contribute to the position.

Closing paragraph

The closing paragraph should include details of your enclosures like your CV or resume and anything else that was specifically requested by the recruiter. Furthermore, mention how you are keen to meet and discuss further about the job position.

Gratitude line

Don’t forget to thank the recruiter for his/her time and consideration.

Sign off

If you are sending an email application, you may use a typed signature that includes your name, contact information and optionally, your official or social media profile link like that of LinkedIn. Alternatively, if it is a hard copy application, sign off the letter using a handwritten signature with your full name below it.

Check out sample templates of cover letter here.

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