After spending countless hours honing your cover letter to highlight your skills and experience, the last thing you need is for mistakes in formatting to leave a bad impression with hiring managers. Font type, size and spacing matter when putting together this critical element of your application materials. Find out how to make your cover letter create a positive impression on potential employers.
Avoid Awkward Spacing
Word processing programs offer many options when it comes to spacing. However, it's best to keep things simple and traditional when writing your cover letter. Avoid double spacing the body of your paragraphs or putting multiple spaces in between paragraphs. Too much white space can lead employers to believe that you don't have much to say about yourself.
Single space the body of the cover letter, and leave one space between each paragraph. Insert one space between your contact information at the top of the letter and the greeting. Leave three lines between the final salutation and your typed name, allowing room for your personalized signature. In addition, make sure that your paragraphs are aligned to the left of the page. You can also differentiate between paragraphs by indenting the first line of each paragraph to the right.
Your margins are also important. The traditional cover letter should use a 1-inch margin on all sides of the document.
Resist the Urge to Embellish the Letter
Your cover letter should model the same professional look as your resume. More importantly, it should be easy to read. Avoid using script or stencil-style fonts that are difficult to read. This type of font may be visually appealing on invitations or brochures, but hiring managers are not evaluating your ability to use fancy fonts. Remember that your goal is to draw the reader into the text of the letter.
Select a basic 12-point font such as Times New Roman, Arial or Verdana. These standard fonts are also highly recommended for your resume. Coordinate the two documents so they have a consistent appearance. This strategy lets employers know that you pay close attention to detail.
Your eye may be drawn to colorful fliers or brochures produced by marketing firms or companies. However, a cover letter that is busy, flashy and colorful is not always appropriate, unless you are working in a creative industry. Stick to a traditional black and white color scheme when crafting your letter so the focus remains on your qualifications.
Even the most well-written cover letter can wind up hurting your chances of securing an interview if poor formatting makes the document difficult to navigate. When in doubt, stick with a traditional format so potential employers are able to assess your professionalism, experience and skills without distractions.
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