En Route: A Career Blog

Formatting Your Cover Letter for Maximum Effectiveness

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: April 15, 2008 at 9:06 am

by Darlene Zambruski, CPRW, SME

Because a cover letter is your first chance to make a lasting impression with a hiring manager it must be professional. To accomplish this:

1. Always use the same heading for your cover letter that you have used in your resume.

2. Whenever possible, use the hiring manager’s name. This personalizes the document and shows attention to detail.

3. Include in your opening paragraph what job you’re interested in and a specific reason as to why you feel qualified for this position.

4. Include in the body of the letter specific experience, skills or accomplishments from your past that dovetail with the requirements of the new job. This data should be bulleted, rather than presented in a solid block of text. The human eye is drawn to bulleted areas, and they provide the data in an easy-to-read format so that the hiring manager can digest the information from one sentence before moving on to the others. Examples of bulleted areas follow:

As my enclosed resume indicates, my background includes more than two decades of service at US Flight with significant experience in:

· Aircraft accident investigation as a member of the US Flight disaster team.
· Security checkpoints where I handled countless calls for assistance.
· Training the Ground Security team to protect and promote public safety.

In addition to the above skills, I can also offer your firm:

· More than 30 years of experience in the airline industry.
· Expertise in dealing with government agencies, including the FAA where I facilitated communications to reduce company fines.
· Reduced absenteeism and occupational injuries, standards I maintained at US Flight where I achieved the best employee safety record of all US Flight cities.

5. If the letter is being addressed to a specific hiring manager, close your letter proactively indicating that you will be contacting the hiring manager’s office within the next week to see if you might set up a time to meet.

Sending Your Cover Letter by “Snail” Mail

With today’s technology, most resumes and cover letters are sent as attachments via email. However, if you have reason to send your cover letter and resume by “snail” mail, the documents should be printed on good bond paper (20 lbs) with a watermark. Choose a color that evokes professionalism – the best choices are white or cream, though a light gray can also be considered.


Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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