Everything You Need To Know About a Cover Letter Header

Overview

Can a Professional Cover Letter Header Increase the Chances of Getting Your Application Noticed?

While applying for a job opening for what seems like the millionth time in the last couple of months, you suddenly stop and think—how important is a cover letter, or more specifically, a cover letter header? 

It may surprise you to hear that it is more important than you realize. It is the first section that hiring managers notice and the one that should contain all the information necessary to contact you. 

You might think there’s not much to know about it, but you’d be wrong. There are many pitfalls to be aware of before you dismiss the cover letter heading entirely.

In this article, we will cover all there is to know about writing a cover letter header that will leave a great initial impression. We will not stop there, though—we will show you how to structure and format your cover letter to make it stand out and get your application noticed by recruiters!

The Structure of a Cover Letter Explained

A cover letter introduces you to the recruiter and explains how your qualifications and expertise align with the role you are applying for.

The first step in getting your application noticed by the recruiter is by getting the structure of the cover letter just right. An outline of a cover letter can be broken into these four parts:

  1. The heading—a section that contains your personal details and contact information
  2. The formal greeting—where you address the hiring manager
  3. Main paragraphs—which present your skills and qualifications in more detail than your resume and explain how they can be useful in the role you’re after
  4. Formal closing—a short section where you thank the recruiter for their time and encourage them to contact you

What Does the Header of a Cover Letter Include?

Two young Asian job seekers drafting a cover letter on a laptop and taking notes down in a notebook

Source: Artem Podrez

A cover letter header is the top portion of the document. It typically includes the following components:

  1. Your:
    1. Full name
    2. Phone number
    3. Email address
    4. Mailing address
    5. LinkedIn profile link
  2. The date
  3. Recipient’s information

Full Name

However you choose to organize the rest of the information in the cover letter header, your name should always be the first detail a hiring manager sees. 

Make sure that the name in the header matches the name you use across your LinkedIn and social media profiles—for example, if your Linkedin profile says “Peter Blach”, don’t use “Pete Blach” in your cover letter.

Phone Number

You can provide your home phone or a cell phone number—that is entirely up to you. You should take your availability and privacy into consideration when including your home number, though—you might not be home when the recruiter calls, or there could be noise in the background. 

With a cell phone, you can move to a more private area to take the call, regardless of where you are. Make sure that you:

  1. Put the number you’re most likely to answer—if you have more than one cell phone
  2. Have a tasteful voice mail message—make sure you change the one recorded while you were three sheets to the wind
  3. Don’t, under any circumstances, provide a work phone number

Email Address

When it comes to email addresses, the same rule applies as with phone numbers—leave the one that you use most frequently. You should also make sure your email address sounds professional—the best option is an email address that includes your first and last name or a first name/last name initial. 

What should you avoid? Don’t leave an email address that sounds too informal—such as one that includes slang words, a pseudonym, or a term of endearment like “princess.”

Providing a link to your Linkedin profile is always a clever choice, especially if this is your first time applying for a job. It can give the hiring manager some additional information about your qualifications and potential mutual connections you have in the company. 

What do you need to pay attention to? You must:

  • Update your LinkedIn profile before adding the link to your cover letter
  • Make sure the link is not broken
  • Customize the URL to make it look professional

Date

The date is an important detail of the cover letter header, even if it might seem insignificant. Make sure that you use the current date in your cover letter.

Recruiters notice if you leave an incorrect one—doing so gives off the impression that you mass-apply to job openings and don’t pay attention to details, which might diminish your chances of getting an interview.

Recipient’s Information

This part includes information about the hiring company, such as the name, mailing address, and phone number.

It would be ideal if you knew the name of the hiring manager so that you can address them properly. If you are unable to find their details on the company’s official website or LinkedIn profile, addressing them as the “Hiring Manager” is perfectly acceptable.

You can also include more optional information in your cover letter header, such as:

  • Your current job title, if applicable
  • Link to your social media profile
  • Link to your personal website, if any

Placement of Components in a Header

There are no rules when it comes to the placement of the information in the cover letter header. You can arrange the details on top of one another, or you can place your personal information on the left and the date and recipient’s information on the right.

Some candidates use a different font or color to separate the header from the rest of the text. You should avoid doing that—mixing different fonts and colors within the text will decrease its readability for both humans and ATSs.

What Not To Put in a Heading of a Cover Letter

When it comes to your cover letter header, you should follow the “less is more” principle. Here’s what information you should skip:

Details To AvoidExplanation
Your mailing addressYou’re not obligated to provide a mailing address, especially if you’re applying for a remote position. Still, in some instances, doing so can be beneficial, such as when applying for an office job—that information can help the hiring manager assess whether they would need to cover your travel expenses
Profile pictureYou don’t need to attach a photo to your cover letter. If you want, you can include a headshot in your resume
Other personal informationNever include your date of birth or Social Security number in your cover letter header
Alternate contact informationAvoid adding too many alternate phone numbers and email addresses—you risk missing the information about the outcome of your application

Cover Letter Formatting Tips That You Might Find Useful

A female Black hiring manager shaking a candidate’s hand at the end of an interview

Source: Tima Miroshnichenko

Another important element of creating a cover letter is formatting it properly—doing so will boost your document’s readability. Not only that—since your cover letter might go through an applicant tracking system (ATS) first, you will want to make it ATS-friendly.

Here are the elements you should pay specific attention to when formatting your cover letter:

Formatting GuideBrief Explanation
FontChoose a font that is simple and professional, such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. The font size should be between 10–12 pt—that will make the text readable for both ATSs and humans
Spacing and alignmentThe cover letter needs to be single-spaced, and the text should be aligned to the left
MarginsThe standard recommendation is to set your margins approximately 1 inch on all sides of the page. Strive to fit the content on a single page—reduce the margins to 0.7 inches if you have a lot of text, but increase the margins to 1.5 inches if your cover letter is short and the page looks too empty

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