Effective Cover Letter Formats

These four cover letter formats will address the majority of situations when you need to send a cover letter. Select the right format for the cover letter you want to write.

All cover letters, regardless of the situation will include certain information - an explanation of why you are sending your resume, a convincing introduction, a clear summary of why you are a good job candidate and a strong closing that motivates the reader to take action.

Before you start to write your own convincing cover letter, it is important to get a full understanding of what is a cover letter?

There are important differences in the format of a cover letter depending on the job search situation.

Cover Letter Responding to an Advertisement

  • Address your letter to an individual by name and include his or her position. Mention the title of  the job opportunity as it appears in the job posting and include the date and where you saw it (newspaper, online job site).
  • Your introduction highlights why the employer should continue reading your cover letter and a summary of your skills and strengths retains the reader's interest.
  • A strong closing includes a request for an interview and a reinforcement of why the employer should meet with you.

You can follow the format of this basic cover letter to write your own cover letter for this situation.

Sample Cover Letters

Email Cover Letter

If you are sending an emailed cover letter it should adhere to the same criteria as a print cover letter. However cover letter formats for an emailed letter should include a clear subject line.

It should be both professional and appealing and make the employer want to read your cover letter. Avoid using subject lines such as "Jill Black's Resume". Include the title of the job opportunity and job posting number but go beyond that. "Job#566 - Experienced Sales Associate in the XX Industry". This tells the reader straightaway that you are experienced and have worked in their industry.

A brief but powerful introductory paragraph immediately tells the reader that you are a good match for the job. "I was excited to see your opening for a Sales Associate on the XXX job site today. As my attached resume clearly demonstrates, my experience and achievements are an excellent match for your job requirements."

Cover letter formats generally should not be longer than one page and this is particularly relevant in an emailed cover letter. Use three to four carefully constructed and concise paragraphs and keep the cover letter to one screen view.

Email Cover Letters

Cold Cover Letter

  • With this cover letter format you are not responding to a specific job opening but are inquiring about possible employment opportunities with the company.
  • A cold cover letter should clearly explain why you are interested in that specific company, what you can offer them and why you would be an asset to the organization.
  • It is essential to research the potential employer before sending your cover letter. Find out what you can about the company, their goals, their competitors, their current activities and their future plans. You can knowledgeably refer to this information when demonstrating how you can be of value to the company in your cold cover letter.
  • Always customize your cover letter to the target organization.
  • Summarize your skills and strengths relevant to the company. Close your cover letter with a proactive statement promising to follow up on the opportunity of a face to face meeting.

You can use a number of different techniques to open your cold cover letter.

"If your company is in search of a high achieving Sales Professional who is passionate about the XX industry, my credentials will be of interest. Allow me to introduce myself...."

"ABC company caught my attention recently in the CRM Journal. Your reputation for outstanding customer service is well documented and I am very interested in joining your customer service team. I am confident that my excellent track record as a customer service professional will be of interest to you. Please allow me to highlight my skills and achievements that would benefit your organization...."

Use these sample cold cover letters to help you with your cover letter format for this situation.

Cold Cover Email

Networking Cover Letter

Cover letter formats include the important networking cover letter. This is a job search networking letter sent with the objective of obtaining help from a contact in your industry or career field.

There are certain key steps to follow before sending a networking cover letter.

  • Collect sufficient information about the contact you are writing to
  • Start the letter by explaining why you are writing to that individual
  • Make clear your objective in writing the letter
  • Summarize your experience, qualifications, skills and achievements
  • Close with a promise to follow up on your letter

Networking Cover Letter

Which of these cover letter formats is appropriate for your situation? Select the format for you and use one of our sample cover letters to help you write a convincing and professional cover letter for your employment application.

Cover Letter Formats part 2

Are you relocating? Use these relocation cover letters to get the job interview.

Find help with writing a career change cover letter.

Always include a cover letter with your resume.

Best Job Interview > Cover Letters > Cover Letter Formats

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