Whether it’s for a freelancing or a full-time job, you’ve probably noticed that many employers require applicants to include a cover letter with their resumé. A cover letter should highlight all of your strongest skills in a couple of paragraphs, telling employers who you are, and why you should be hired.
Note: much of the advice given here will most benefit those working with newer versions (2013+) of Microsoft Word.
Traditionally, this would mean:
- 1-inch margins (top, bottom, left, and right).
- Heading (your name and contact information).
- Date aligned right.
- Employer’s address aligned left.
- The cover letter itself.
As for selecting a font, I would suggest sticking with Times New Roman. It’s also a good idea to convert the completed cover letter (and resumé) into a PDF document before emailing it to an employer. So:
File > Export > Create PDF/XPS Document > File Name: (your choice) > Save as type: PDF > Publish
As with any form of writing, the first sentence or two has to get the reader (in this case, the employer’s) attention. Since employers sometimes post job advertisements on several different websites, it’s a good idea to begin a letter with:
To Whom It May Concern,
I’m writing to apply for the (name of the job) that I saw advertised on (name of the website).
The next sentence should sum up what the cover letter will be about. For example:
My education, work experience, and good personality make me an excellent candidate for this position.
Proceeding from there, you could devote one paragraph to education/work experience, and another paragraph to your character and what you want to bring to this job.
Indicate that you can provide references if asked, and thank the employer for considering your application, closing with “Sincerely,” and your handwritten signature. How do you add a signature to a Microsoft Word document? Read this tutorial.
Keeping It All Relevant
Of course, you’ll have to adapt your cover letter (which should only ever be one page) for every job that you apply for. However, you can save time by keeping a “universal” cover letter version in your files, and simply inserting details as necessary for each application. With a professional-looking layout and crisp, succinct content, employers should take notice!
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