Elm’s How To: Formatting a Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter can seem daunting at first, but we want to show you the process can actually be quite simple!

Ah, the infamous cover letter. It is something some applicants try their hardest to avoid. In reality, a cover letter is a perfect way to showcase the reasons why you would make a great fit for a position. If done right, cover letters are what can get you noticed by potential employers and recruiters! So, what is a cover letter?

A cover letter is an introduction to who you are as a person and employee. Typically attached to your resume to provide additional information on your skills and experience, the cover letter should spark interest and capture the attention of the employer. Your cover letter should be a one-page document that is between 250 to 400 words long. Its primary purpose is to briefly summarize your professional background and introduce you. 

While your cover letter does not have to be the more creative writing assignment you have ever completed, it should have a clear structure that helps guide the reader through your professional history. Here is our recommended format:

Header

Have a header with your name and contact information. Bonus points if you match your header to your resume style!

Greeting

Next, greet the hiring manager using their full name. We prefer a “Dear Ms/Mr...” format.

Opening Paragraph

Think of your first paragraph as an introduction to your professional experience. It should grab the attention of the reader and outline your industry experience and education. 

Second Paragraph

Your second paragraph should guide the reader through your skills and achievements. It is helpful when you can quantify your experience as well. For example, if you have experience in event management, describe how many attendees and speakers you oversaw. Be specific and clear in this paragraph. You may want to add bullet points to this paragraph if you think it would be beneficial to your message. 

Third Paragraph

Finally, explain why you are the perfect person for the job. The last paragraph of your cover letter should summarize your best attributes and why you think you would make a great addition to the company’s team. 

Formal Closing

Thank the reader for their time and consideration and close your letter with a formal farewell. Then, sign your name.

Now that you know how to structure your cover letter, here is an example of one:

Here are a final few tips before writing your own cover letter:

  1. Customize each letter so employers know you are interested and invested in their company. This requires some research, first. Get to know the company’s mission and their main goals.
  2. Remember that it is your first chance to leave the right first impression. Make sure your cover letter is clean and professional, but also showcases your individuality.
  3. Include key words and action verbs in your cover letter in case the reader only scans through the resume.
  4. Proof read and ask for feedback before sending it out!

Did we miss any tips? Tag us on Instagram @Elm.America or Facebook @Elm.America and tell us how you format your cover letter!
By Juli Rudnick

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