The Best Cover Letter Format For 2019 [3 Sample Templates]

By Mike Simpson

Before I give you all of my secrets for the perfect cover letter format for 2019 (and trust me, you want to keep reading because this is going to really help you), I have to ask you a question.

Have you ever heard the phrase “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?”

Of course you have. So what’s the point?

Bear with me for a moment.

Let’s say you’re at a party and meeting people for the very first time. You want to look your best, right?

You put on your favorite outfit, double and triple check your hair, brush your teeth five times, roll on your strongest deodorant and pack your pockets full of mints.

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You’re doing everything you can to make sure you’re ready to go.

Okay so here’s another question: When people meet you for the first time, how long does it take for them to form an opinion about you based on their first impression.

Ready for this?

Seven seconds.

Seven seconds?! Are you serious?

That’s right, just seven fast seconds. As soon as you meet someone for the first time, their brains are processing everything about you at a rate of thousands of decisions a second:

Are you someone they want to talk to? Do you look friendly? Are you approachable? Do you look interesting? Is that spinach in your teeth?

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Of course, most of these thoughts and decisions are made on the subconscious level at lightning speed and before you can fully get your name out and shake hands, that person has already decided whether or not they want to continue the conversation or move onto the next person to talk to.

Crazy, right?

Did you know the exact same thing happens in the job marketplace? It’s true.

Okay, so maybe you’re not meeting at the buffet line both contemplating the last shrimp puff, but when it comes to applying for a job and getting that interview, you need to treat it just like you treat your party, and that means getting everything exactly the way you want it to be for that first, crucial, first impression.

Hang on, how is that possible? Are you saying I have to dress up just to apply for my dream job? All I’m doing is sending in my paperwork…do I have to put on formal wear just to type it up?

In job interviews, just like our party, first impressions are everything, which is why we always encourage you to make sure you’re looking and sounding your best in every possible way, and in many cases that starts with your cover letter.

Oooh! My cover letter! But didn’t we already go over those?

Yes, we did! But this article is more than just how to write a cover letter. In this article we’re going to get down and dirty with the actual formatting of your cover letter.

Formatting? You mean there are different formats? I thought it was just a basic introduction and blah blah blah, here are my qualifications…hire me?

In a nutshell, yes, but remember, you only get one chance to make that first impression…so why run the risk of making the wrong one?

Why The Format Of Your Cover Letter Is Important

Let’s start with why cover letter formatting is so important.

As we’ve already said, first impressions are everything. You want a hiring manager to look at your cover letter and be so intrigued that they not only read it, but they call you in for an interview.

Chances are they’re going to be slogging through hundreds, if not thousands of cover letters and odds are the majority of those are going to be tossed in the trash after nothing more than a quick glance or two.

So, how do you make sure your cover letter (and attached resume) don’t get “filed under G” (for garbage… see what we did there)?

By making sure it’s not only the best first impression it can possibly be, but also the right impression.

Let’s get started.

How To Format A Cover Lettercover-letter-best-practices1

To begin, let’s get some basics out of the way.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a quick way for you to summarize who you are, what position you are applying for and what skills and knowledge you have.

But can’t they just get the majority of that information from my resume?

Yes, but at the same time, a cover letter is a great opportunity for you to introduce information that’s not in your resume!

Most people fail to realize this and just use the cover letter as an opportunity to regurgitate everything that’s in their resume. Not only are they just doubling up useless information, they’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage a potential employer as well as showcase other skills or outside experiences that might not be on their resume but which are perfect for the position.

Say what?!?

You don’t need to include every skill you possess in your cover letter, rather you use your cover letter to specifically target both the job and employer.

Using the cover letter as a way to express to your potential employer what it is about the position that appeals to you and why you want to work for them is a great way to both introduce yourself and get them curious enough about who you are to keep reading.

Think of your cover letter as the “laser pointer” highlighting exactly why you’re the Perfect Candidate.

So how long should my cover letter be?

A well written cover letter should never be longer than a single page.

No hiring manager wants to read a five page letter. Remember, they’re busy! Keep it short and sweet.

That’s it?! That doesn’t seem so hard!

Slow down there, turbo. It might not seem hard, but before you go rushing off to type yours up, we’re going to break it down even further…including the three different types of cover letter formats. Once we get those explained, we’ll circle back to actual formatting including fonts, margins, paper, etc.

Different Types of Cover Letter Format

There are three basic types of cover letter format you need to be aware of, and we like to call them:

The Paragraph cover letter
The Specific Needs cover letter
The Grocery List cover letter

PARAGRAPH COVER LETTER

The Paragraph cover letter is the most common form of cover letters and is probably the format you’ll end up using the most often, especially if you are just starting out in the job market or don’t have a ton of experience yet.

Paragraph letters allow you to engage your reader with direct story telling style utilizing a series of three to four short paragraphs.

People who would benefit from using the Paragraph Letter are:

High school grads
College grads
Entry Level Workers
People with Gaps in their Work History
People Making Career changes
Individuals with extensive experience
Executives
Specialists
Anyone!

But what does each paragraph contain?

Well, let’s take a look.

Your first paragraph is your introductory paragraph.

You use it to quickly tell a prospective employer who you are and why you are writing to them. You can include information here about things like your areas of expertise and your career goals and how they align with the company.

This is also where you let them know what position you’re specifically applying for as well as how you heard about it.

Your second and third paragraphs are all about what skills and knowledge you have that is specific to the job you’re applying for and will be bringing with you should they offer you the position.

Make sure you highlight your qualifications and how they fit in with the open position. Use words directly from the job description.

Again, this isn’t the time to just repeat your resume…use this space as an opportunity to really show them how you’re the employee they’ve been looking for all along and how you’re perfect for the job they’re currently hiring for.

When a company posts a job opening, they’re posting what they need. What skills, abilities, knowledge and experiences are they looking for?

Use this paragraph to highlight how you fill that need. This is also where you can fill in any informa