Advanced search

HR pros - what does a cover letter look like these days?

(5 Posts)
justaftb Wed 04-Sep-19 11:25:47

Been applying for jobs and confused over cover letters.

Most job applications are through a company's jobs portal. You either get asked to upload a cover letter in Word/PDF form or enter text in a box.

Should I still use addresses at the top of the letter for uploads?
If so, do I use my address and the company address...?
Should I use a greeting if I enter text directly into a text box?
Do people still use 'Dear Sir/Madam?'

Basically, in the digital age, how does one format a cover letter?

ALoadOfTwaddle Wed 04-Sep-19 19:55:38

Google cover letter examples- there are loads. Formatting is basically the same as it always was though

justaftb Thu 05-Sep-19 11:30:08

Yes, there are loads of examples when you google, but very diverse examples, mostly from the US and often the web pages the appear on are old.

I am interested in what HR professionals in the UK are seeing come through. What are definite nos. Are lots of different formats acceptable as long as the body of the letter is good? If its an upload, is it OK to PDF rather than just add the Word doc?

Many years ago, the convention was to put your own full address in the top righthand corner, the company address below that but on the left. These days, you usually don't have the company address. You most often don't have a name / contact for the application.

To give you some context, a lot of the companies I am applying to are youngish tech companies, or companies producing innovative software.

It seems out of date to me to attach a letter with that structure and with a 'Dear Sir/Madam' (do people still use 'Dear Sir/Madam? Sounds very old-fashioned to me.)

And if you are creating your 'cover letter' in the portal where you upload your CV, it seems redundant to say 'I would like to apply for the position of Chief Bottle Washer' as you will already me in a workflow for that specific job. Compare that to the past when you'd have to point out exactly which job you were applying for.

ALoadOfTwaddle Thu 05-Sep-19 17:49:23

Well, for whatever it's worth, I'd say:

Use 'To whom it may concern'. Formal, but works for non binary etc too.
Put your address and omit theirs. Or put their company name. Or put no addresses. Personally, I'd do the second (but tbh I probably wouldn't apply for a job with no physical premises anyway). If it's an email or type-in-a-box thing, don't bother with an address as you'll lose the formatting.

PDF is sometimes better than Word as it's marginally harder to alter. Tailor your cover letter so it's clear it's for that specific job. Yes, they know which job it's for, but you need to show you've done your homework and really thought about it, rather than just spamming a load of job adverts, so whether or not you include the job title, make that clear.

Address the points in the job description/selection criteria. Make it clear you meet each one. I don't think there's one specific format that's acceptable.

justaftb Fri 06-Sep-19 13:21:29

Cheers. Thanks for the feedback!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »