What Does a Cover Letter Look Like? How to Make It Stand Out in 2019

Long story short: if your cover letter looks bad, it will generate zero interest. And there’s more to making it look great than setting the right margins and picking good fonts.

What Does a Cover Letter Look Like? How to Make It Stand Out in 2019

About 50% of the candidates send cover letters. And only 26% of the recruiters consider them important.

 

But since you never know whose hands your job application is going to end up in—

 

It’s better to be safe than sorry, isn’t it?

 

The problem is:

 

If you send a cover letter that doesn’t look as it should, you’ll be doing yourself more harm than good.

 

In this article you’ll learn:

  • What a resume cover letter should look like.
  • What template works best for any cover letter.
  • Tips on how to write one so it both looks and reads great.

 

Looking for a step-by-step guide on how to make a cover letter? We’ve got one just for you: How To Write a Cover Letter in 10 Minutes (10+ Examples)

 

1. Example and Template of a Great Looking Cover Letter

 

Before we go any further—

 

Here’s what a resume cover letter looks like:

 

A Good-Looking Cover Letter for a Resume

 

sample cover letter example

 Create a cover letter that matches the design of your resume—pick from 18 professional templates and get a powerful resume + cover letter combo now.

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Below you can find an outline you can copy and paste into a blank document:

 

Proper Cover Letter Outline

 

[Your Name]

[Your Job Title]

[Phone Number]

[Email Address]

[LinkedIn Account]

 

[Date]

 

[Addressee’s Name]

[Addressee’s Job Title]

[Company Name]

[Company Address]



Dear [Addressee’s Name]



[Paragraph 1] Get the recruiter’s attention and introduce yourself.

When I found the opening for [Position] with [Company], I was [Describe your excitement]. In my current position as [Current Job Title], I [Mention a key achievement of yours]. I’m sure my experience will translate into similar results at [Company].

 

[Paragraph 2] Prove your worth and explain why you’re a great fit.

I realize that [Mention a current problem a company is facing, e.g. refer to what you think is the most challenging in the role]. While working at [Previous Company], I’ve [In two sentences, describe what you did specifically, mention another one of your key achievements and say how it helped the company].

 

[Paragraph 3] Explain your motivations.

I love [Say what you like about the company and/or the role you want to fill in]. It’s perfectly in line with my core professional values: [In a sentence, say what it is. Make sure the values or skills you mention here tie in with the previous sentence].

 

[Paragraph 4] Call to action.

When can we [arrange a meeting/schedule a phone call/interview] call to discuss [your contribution to the company].



Sincerely,

 

[Your Name]

[Phone Number]

[Email Address]

 

P.S. [Optional Section] Grab the recruiter’s attention once more with an additional achievement of yours included in the postscript. [E.g. I’d also love to tell you how I managed to motivate my team to achieve X by doing Y].

Expert Hint: Your job application documents consist of a resume and a cover letter. It’s crucial for both of them to be formatted in the same way. Also, make sure both the resume header and cover letter header match one another.

2. How to Format and Write a Professional Looking Cover Letter 

 

Cut to the chase:

 

As the name rightly suggests a cover letter is a letter.

 

It’s not an informal note. Or an email. And it’s not a novel either.

 

So—

 

Just like you see in the template above, a cover letter should consist of:

  • Heading
  • Salutation
  • Main Body
  • Closing
  • Postscript

 

Now—

 

How long should a cover letter be? How much space do you have?

 

A single page.

 

To be more precise:

  • Experienced candidates should stay below 300 words.
  • Entry-level candidates shouldn’t exceed 200 words.

 

Obviously, nothing is set in stone.

 

Let common sense be thy guide. If your cover letter is 20% longer or shorter, it’s fine.

 

But:

 

A single paragraph won’t look good. Neither will a 5-page treatise.

 

So—

 

Here’s what you can do to make your cover letter look professional and get enough room for everything you want to say on a single page:

 

1. Format Your Cover Letter to Make It Look Professional

 

 

And remember:

 

Your recruitment documents consist of a resume and cover letter combo. So see to it that they look alike and use the same template for both.

 

2. Address Your Cover Letter Properly

 

Here’s the secret—

 

You can tickle the hiring manager’s curiosity before they even read a single word on your cover letter.

 

How?

 

By addressing your cover letter properly.

 

Putting the hiring manager’s name on your cover will make it look professional and feel personal.

Find out who the hiring authority is and send your cover letter and resume to them directly, preferably through a mutual connection you have. This often takes research, but more often than not, you’ll have a connection somewhere in your network that can assist you.

3. Write a Great Looking Introductory Paragraph

 

The best way to grab the recruiter’s attention from the word go is to mention some of your key achievements in the opening paragraph.

 

Our guide on how to start a cover letter will give you detailed instructions on how to get it right.

 

This way your cover letter will NOT look like it’s been copy-pasted an umpteenth time, but specifically crafter to this particular reader and job opening.

 

4. Compose a Compelling Main-Body Section

 

Relevance is key.

 

So make sure the main body paragraphs of your cover letter look nothing but relevant to the career you’re after.

 

Explain to the reader what makes you the best candidate, how you want to help the company grow, and why you believe the job is a perfect match for you.

 

If you’re having doubts about how to put your best foot forward, you can find the answers in our guide on what to include in a cover letter.

In most jobs these days, communication skills are critical. Demonstrate that you can provide information in a clear, concise, and grammatically correct manner. And make sure that your letter is free of any typos or punctuation errors. If your cover letter is full of mistakes, you're speaking volumes about your attention to detail. So have somebody else (who has good writing skills) proof-read your cover letter. I once received a cover letter in which the applicant mentioned that he'd graduated from a top-tier "collage”—and I was not impressed!

5. Add a Call to Action

 

Remember:

 

A cover letter isn’t a list of demands—

 

It’s a request.

 

You’re introducing yourself to someone you’d like to meet in person.

 

So make sure you finish your cover letter with a powerful call to action that will help you achieve your goal.

 

6. Sign Off In a Professional Manner

 

Don’t get sloppy as you’re approaching the end of your cover letter.

 

How you finish is just as important as how you start.

 

So—

 

Learn how to end a cover letter to make it look great from start to finish.

 

And this is it!

 

If you follow the steps above your cover letter will look professional and read great.

 

Key Points

 

Here’s all you need to remember about what a cover letter looks like:

  • Address it to the right person.
  • Make it one-page long.
  • Follow a classic letter template.
  • Set the right margins.
  • Choose professional fonts.
  • Format it just like your resume.
  • Write killer content, relevant to the job.
  • Make sure it’s free from typos and mistakes.

 

Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your ideas on what a great cover letter looks like? We’d love to hear from you! Give us a shout out in the comments below.

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Maciej Duszyński
Resume Expert at ResumeLab
Maciej Duszynski is a career advice writer and a resume expert at ResumeLab. With over 8 years of experience in recruitment, hiring, and training, Maciej shares insider HR knowledge to equip every job seeker with professional advice to nail the job hunt. His insights have been featured by Toggl and Sparkpeople, among others. Maciej has helped job candidates at all stages of their career paths, from interns to directors to C-suite members, to thrive in their job. His mission is to help you find the right opportunity and create a job application that gets you the career you deserve. Maciej holds a Master’s degree in English with a specialization in communication and education management.

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