Jan 31, 2019 - 08:00 PM
A cover letter should be formal. However, you should use language that anyone could understand when you write a cover letter. Do not lean too heavily on industry jargon, and stay away from stiff or overlong sentences that are hard to read. A cover letter is a business letter, and a business letter should always be straightforward and easy to read.
One place formality comes into play with a cover letter is the salutation. Very often, cover letters begin with, "To whom it may concern." Although this statement is technically correct, it sounds both formal and outdated. Instead of using this phrase, try something that sounds more modern. If you’re applying to a job at FedEx, for example, begin with "Dear FedEx Team." Using a salutation that includes the company name sounds more modern and more targeted toward the company. If you don’t go that route, and if you can’t find the hiring manager’s name on LinkedIn, consider using the safe and acceptable “Dear Hiring Manager” salutation.
Another thing that many letters (ones not of the cover letter variety!) contain is a signature. It appears near the bottom of the message, and it is a hand-written signature. Many people use a similar approach to signatures in their cover letter, and insert a small picture of their hand-written signature. This is not necessary. In fact, including a hand-written signature in a digital document can appear outdated.
Always remember: A cover letter is a formal document that contains information that must be easily understood by any reader. Use the space provided by a cover letter to clearly and succinctly tell a story about who you are and what you can do for the company, and use professional, non-slangy language throughout the letter!
Aug 18, 2018 - 08:31 AM
Which brings up the issue of your cover letter: Should it be formal or informal? To answer this question, you need to understand a company’s culture. How do you do that? Included in a series of cover letter writing tips from Time Magazine is the suggestion that you explore a company’s website before creating yours. The tone of the company’s copy that you see on there should give you a good indication of whether its work environment is casual and laid-back, or more traditional and buttoned-up.
The impression of the tone you get from the company’s website should dictate that of your cover letter. Yet even in cases where an informal letter seems appropriate, remember to still maintain your professionalism. You don’t want to sabotage your candidacy be coming across as too informal.