Your cover letter is one of the first things a recruiter or potential employer will look at, so you want to make it good. It should be clear, professional and easy to read. While what your write is important, so is how you present it. Here are some simple suggestions that can make a big difference and improve your cover letter presentation.
Use a common format
Given that most applications are made electronically these days, getting your document format right is essential. Some electronic application systems will only let you submit documents in specific formats. Even when you apply via email, chances are that the employer or recruiter will be wanting to put your application into their database. That means if you send a cover letter using a non-standard document format, they will have to convert it. Using a standard format means they won’t need to, and they’ll appreciate that.
The standard formats to use are Microsoft Word documents and PDFs. Programs to create and read these document formats are commonly available, and are generally considered the business standard. Sending your application using one of these formats also demonstrates your ability to communicate professionally. If you use a different format, you risk submitting a document that the employer or recruiter does not have the software to open or that may not display properly. Always check whether the application instructions require a specific format, even if you’re just sending your application by email.
Choose a clear font and layout
Another aspect to consider is how easy your cover letter is to read. Besides your actual words, the choice of font can make a difference. Choose a clear font that is easy to read. Beware of fonts that are tiny or hard to read when printed. Make sure that your use of fonts is consistent throughout the document. Coordinating the font and style of your cover letter with your resume also makes for a more polished look.
Using a clear layout is a helpful way to present your cover letter. If you haven’t written a formal letter in a while, you can find useful examples online. Start by addressing your letter to the correct person. You might need to do a little research to find out who this is. Use a subject line that makes it clear what position you are applying for. Short paragraphs with white space in between will help keep the page from looking crowded. So will good page margins. Depending on the information in your letter, it might also be beneficial to use dot points. Think about how best to present your cover letter and how the page looks overall.
Consider your reader
If you have ever been on the receiving end of the application process, you will know that there can be a lot of reading. Understanding this as an applicant can help you to think about your reader and what will help them. Of course, this will also help you as a candidate because making the reader’s job easier means you will likely make a good impression.
Try to write concisely and address the key points raised in the job advertisement or position description. Link your skills and experience to those the reader will be looking for, rather than relying on your reader to make the connection. Make it easy for them. Use a friendly but professional tone. Provide a summary paragraph at the end to recap your most relevant skills and experience, and confirm your interest in the role.
Preparing a cover letter that is clear, professional and easy to read will help you to make a positive first impression. It can also help you to convey your skills and experience effectively. Use a standard document format. Choose a clear font and professional layout. Always consider your reader and aim to make their job of reading many applications that little bit easier.