One of the most difficult things facing most job-seekers is the creation of an outstanding cover letter to send along with that rock-solid resume. Even if writing comes naturally to you, it can sometimes be a challenge to know where to start and how to structure your letter. A good cover letter outline can be a great tool to help you get your letter done with a minimum of fuss and worry!
Start with the basics, including your name and address, the date, and the employer’s address information – and then address the hiring manager.
Good Cover Letter Outline Example:
Your Name | Email | Phone
Hiring Manager’s Name
City, State ZIP
Dear Mr./Ms. [Hiring Manager’s Name]
For the body of the letter, you typically only need three paragraphs – each accomplishing a distinct and necessary goal. We’ll cover each of those paragraphs separately.
Paragraph One: Your Purpose
Be very clear about the letter’s intent, and explain what position you’re interested in and why. It’s a good idea to include mention of how the job came to your attention if you are seeking an open position. If not, then explain why you’re Don’t forget to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework on the firm by referencing some new project or product offering that the company is pursuing.
Paragraph Two: Why You’re Qualified (experience and skills)
This paragraph is where the magic happens. You should point the hiring manager to your resume by referencing it here – and then draw attention to those skills and experiences that make you the ideal candidate for the position. Use powerful action words to describe your training, skills – including transferable skills, and relevant work history.
It can sometimes be tempting to focus on yourself so much in this paragraph that you forget about your reader. Don’t make that mistake! Instead, try to convey each talent and skill in terms that demonstrate how you can be an asset to this potential employer. Don’t skimp on the details either. If necessary, feel free to make this section into two paragraphs to ensure that you’ve properly sold yourself to the hiring manager. In short, focus on the benefits you can provide as an employee.
Paragraph Three: Your Call to Action
The final paragraph is a call to action. Include a brief recitation of the skills and experiences that make you the best candidate for the job, and express your desire to have a more detailed conversation with the company’s hiring representative. Close with a promise to contact the company to verify that the application made it to the right person, and thank them for their time and attention.
In addition to following that outline, you should also keep these important tips in mind:
Create a list of keywords relevant to the position, and include them in the body of the text. Focus on keywords related to the qualifications, to ensure that your skills and experience stand out.
Be sure to customize each cover letter. Don’t just use the same wording when you’re applying at multiple companies.
If there are employment gaps in your resume, use your cover letter to explain them.
Get help! Have someone you trust proofread your letter when you’re done. If you’re not comfortable with formal letter writing, get help with that too.
(You could also check out our post on what a good cover letter looks like here.)
The important thing is to ensure that you have a powerful cover letter that can capture any hiring manager’s attention and give you the best chance of getting the job you want. By learning how to use a sound cover letter outline, you can quickly learn how to create powerful letters that perfectly complement your next resume submission.
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.