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How to Write a Formal Cover Letter: Examples, Format & Guide

How to Write a Formal Cover Letter: Examples, Format & Guide

Your cover letter needs to look professional so hiring managers don’t dismiss you. Use this formal cover letter guide and sample to show your skills in a business-friendly way.

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Every job application needs a formal cover letter like the sample in this guide. Without a formal cover letter letter, almost half of all employers will discard a resume. Put the right info in the right places—heading, address, salutation, and the right three paragraphs—to show you’re worth their time.


This guide will show you a formal cover letter sample and the best tips on how to write a formal covering letter step-by-step. Let's get started.


Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.


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sample resume and cover letter set

Sample Cover Letter for a Resume—See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here.


Sample Formal Cover Letter


Arthur McVey


3277 Webster Street

Newark, NJ 07192





Cara Stuyvesant

Staff Development Manager

Apogee Learning, Inc.

761 Duke Lane

Newark, NJ 07102


Dear Ms. Stuyvesant,


Considering Apogee’s standing as the #1 online learning institution in the U.S., I was happy to learn of the recent opening for a math and English tutor at your firm. I know you place a high value on client satisfaction, so I’d like to share that I maintained a 97% student rating from over 400 clients in my 4 years as an NTA-certified tutor at Excelsior Tutoring.


Your job ad emphasizes helping students prepare for the SAT and ACT tests and retests. At Excelsior, I helped over 200 students raise their SAT and ACT retest scores by an average of 35%. You also mention active listening skills as a key requirement. That’s so important for a tutor, and I’m pleased to say I received 5 commendations from my manager for my active listening ability.


Apogee Learning makes a concentrated effort to meet the needs of every student. I’d be happy to assist you in your mission by providing high-quality remote instruction and client interaction. Could we set up a call next week to discuss how my skills in mathematics, English, and communication can help you meet your goals?


Best regards,


Arthur McVey




That’s a job-getting formal cover letter sample.


Your resume matters, too. See our guide: How to Make a Resume for a Job


Want to see formal cover letter examples for a specific career? See these guides: Best Cover Letter Samples for All Careers


Formal Cover Letter Template


Here’s how to write a cover letter for a formal job application:


1. Choose a professional cover letter format and layout


  • Cover letter outline: consisting of three paragraphs.
  • First paragraph: mention the job you’re applying to and your biggest work accomplishment.
  • Middle paragraph: describe the top ways you fit the job.
  • Final paragraph: explain why you want this job and a request for an interview.
  • Cover letter font: choose a respected and easily readable font (Trebuchet, Lato, Calibri, Garamond).
  • Line spacing: set to 1.15.
  • Cover letter margins: 1 inch on all sides of the page.

Read more: Cover Letter Format

2. Create a formal cover letter header


  • List your first and last name and job title. Then add your contact information address (including zip code), email, and phone number.
  • Include your LinkedIn profile. (87% of hiring managers use LinkedIn to screen job candidates.)
  • Add a blank line, the date, another blank line, and then write the hiring manager’s contact details.
  • Use the same cover letter header in your resume for continuity and a professional look.

Read more: How to Address a Cover Letter

3. Opening paragraph: say what job you’re applying for


Read more: How to Start a Cover Letter

4. Middle paragraph: show your understanding of the job


  • In the body of your cover letter, mention a top few job duties to show you understand the role.
  • Share a few examples of accomplishments that show when you excelled at those tasks.
  • Do this right, and the hiring manager will get excited about your resume.

How should your cover letter look? See our guide: What Does a Good Cover Letter Look Like in 2021?

5. Prove you really want this job


  • Show you’re interested in this job with this company.
  • To do it, share something you like about the company.
  • Can’t think of anything? Check their mission statement and find recent news about them online.
  • This step proves you’ll be committed and hard working.
  • You can actually do it in any paragraph, or in every paragraph. Passion helps to sell you as a candidate.


Did you know? The fastest-growing careers are in green energy, healthcare, and information security. That’s according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.


6. Last paragraph: end your formal cover letter with an offer

  • Ask for a meeting or call to discuss the role further.
  • Reference a couple more of your skills and show how they can help your prospective employer.   
  • Promise to help the organization reach an important goal or overcome a challenge.

Read more: The Best Cover Letter Endings

7. Add a professional sign-off at the bottom of the page


  • End your cover letter with, “Best regards,”
  • Include a digital version of your signature for extra professionalism.
  • Add your name, phone, and email at the bottom.


Follow up your cover letter within a week, so they don’t forget about you. Learn more: Job Application Follow-Up Email Templates


When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building professional resume template here for free.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.


Questions? Concerns? We’re here for you. If you’re still unsure how to write a job-winning cover letter for formal applications, drop me a line in the comments.

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Tom Gerencer
Tom Gerencer is a career expert who has published over 200 in-depth articles on Zety. Since 2016, he has been sharing advice on all things recruitment from writing winning resumes and cover letters to getting a promotion.
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