Do attempts to write a cover letter leave you with an empty-looking page? If so, rethinking the content and addressing some cover letter formatting issues could help. LiveCareer’s formatting tricks can help you embrace a cover letter’s smaller word count.
1. Check Your Font Size
Forget what your English teacher told you. Adjusting font size by a point or two is a perfectly fine way to better fill out your page. So long as the text isn’t distractingly large, this may even make your letter more legible.
If you’re currently set to a ten or 11-point font, bump it up to a 12-point font. This could be the instant fix you need.
2. Manipulate Your Margins
Cover letter margins should usually range from 1-inch and 1.5-inches on each side of the document. As long as you stay within this range (with your letter’s text properly aligned to the page’s left), feel free to to use larger margins (1.5-inches) to better distribute your words. Just keep in mind that margins larger than this may appear suspect to eagle-eyed hiring managers.
3. Break It Up with Bullet Points
If you only have a couple of paragraphs of content to write, which is typical for those who are new to the workforce, using bullet points is a great pro tip for stretching your content.
Instead of using a paragraph format throughout, reorganize a section as a bulleted list instead. This not only makes that content easy to scan, but it’s a clever way to fill space in an otherwise sparse cover letter. Keep it limited to one list at most. Typically, listing skills or experiences related to the job ad are the best ways to incorporate bullets into a cover letter format.
4. Expand Upon the Details of Your Resume
When formatting your cover letter, remember that it should illuminate elements of your resume. If your goal is to stretch a short cover letter, use the space to provide more information about relevant skills and experience mentioned on your resume. This is particularly important for those seeking to make a career change since emphasizing transferable skills will become critical to your success.
For example, if a required skill is proficiency with Excel, you might use a few sentences or a bullet point to outline how you used Excel in your last role. This information shows recruiters not only that you possess the skill but explains how you’ve applied it in past roles.
5. Mine Your Life for Non-work Experiences
Typically, it’s entry-level workers who have the most trouble filling a full-page cover letter. This is because they have limited work experience. While recruiters expect this from recent graduates and other entry-level candidates, direct work experience isn’t the only way to gain valuable skills.
First, study the job ad and then consider how you’ve employed certain skills and experiences during your time in school, in internships, or as a volunteer. Leadership roles in clubs and sports can also be valuable to mention.
Mining other areas of your life for transferable skills to write about is a great way to beef up your content without adding fluff. Doing so can both help your cover letter’s content better fill out the page and can provide employers with valuable information on your hard and soft skills.
6. Leave Them Wanting More
A final formatting tip: write a compelling closing. Whichever way you choose to word your cover letter’s closing lines, in that final paragraph to sure to word it in a way that encourages your reader to review your resume and offer you an interview.
Whether you opt to finish with “I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience,” or “Thank you for taking the time read over my resume,” keeping this section succinct but compelling might prompt a closer analysis of your resume and better distribute text into whichever other paragraphs need more words.
No matter the length of your cover letter, its first goal should be to show employers how well you match the requirements of the role. If you don’t know where to start, LiveCareer’s Cover Letter Builder can help with both the writing and formatting work associated with cover letter writing. For a more in-depth explanation, check out our how to write a cover letter page which contains step-by-step details on crafting this important document.