How to write a bullet-list cover letter

Formatting your cover letter as a bulleted list can be a good strategy to highlight your strengths and experiences.

Writing a bullet-list cover letter can be a great way to highlight your strengths. Stock image. 

Writing a bullet-list cover letter can be a great way to highlight your strengths. Stock image. 

Hiring managers receive dozens, if not hundreds, of applications for each job posting. Displaying your best points in a style that is easy to read only increases your chances of making it to the interview. 

Here are some tips on how to best translate a traditional cover letter into a bullet-list format:  

  • Bullets must be different than the bullets on your resume; if you are simply rehashing the same information that is on your resume, you lose the advantage of writing a cover letter.
  • Bullets should include information that shows off the qualifications that make you the best fit for the job; I like to tailor points to the specific job posting if I have time.
  • Include 3 to 6 bullet points; I always think an odd number of points is visually pleasing, but really, the determining factor should be fitting in the information that best sells you as an applicant.
  • Write bullets that tell what is unique about you as an applicant. These statements should not just inform the hiring manager about your previous roles and responsibilities, they should show what you did that no one else did. For example, do not write, "At Company X, I developed spreadsheets and oversaw the operating budget;" do write, "At Company X, I oversaw a $10m operating budget and reprioritized expenses, keeping the department under spending targets for the first time in 20 years." 
  • Your cover letter will have a traditional introductory paragraph that introduces you and which job your are applying to.
  • It should also include a full paragraph detailing why you are interested in this specific company (I would put mine after the bulleted list).
  • The cover letter should also have a traditional closing paragraph thanking the hiring manager for their time.

Below is a very rough version of a sample bullet-list cover letter. I am providing this sample so you can get a sense of how to format a bullet-list letter. Please do not style your letter after the content in this example. My writing here is much too generic and casual to be effective, but the formatting is correct. 

Sample bullet-list cover letter. Copy is very rough. Sample for stylistic purposes only. 

Sample bullet-list cover letter. Copy is very rough. Sample for stylistic purposes only. 

The bullet-list cover letter is generally acceptable but could be risky if you work in a more stylistically conservative field like banking. Before you use this method, you should check with a career adviser or communication coach.