Meet the Professionals Night

Cover Letter Outline

The cover letter will often make the first impression and should complement your resume by making it easy for the employer to see how your skill set aligns with the role, what you can bring to the team and why you want the position. By ensuring your cover letter has "answered" the job description details you will demonstrate suitability for the position, and ultimately convince the employer to interview you.

A general overview including a sample outline is included below. Alternate instructions for an email or other electronic-based cover letter are available for federal applications or other job boards requesting non-formatted documents. 

Your Current Address
City, State Zip Code
(Begins approximately 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 inches from top. You could also choose to create your own letterhead and use this on your resume as well.)
Date of Letter
(Vary the amount of blank space here in order to position the body of the letter on the page.)
Person's Name, Title
Organization Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code
(Use the same address that will be on the envelope.)

Dear Ms./Mrs./ Mr./Dr. [Last Name]:

In the first paragraph, tell the employer what position you are applying for and how you heard about it. This is also your opportunity to connect yourself to them. Did you previously work or intern there? Were you referred by a mutual acquaintance? If so, say so in this paragraph. This is also the place to tell them why the position and/or the organization is of interest to you.

The main body of the letter, usually 1-2 paragraphs, should describe your most important qualifications in relationship to the position, field or organization. Emphasize your skills that relate to the job. Refer the reader to your enclosed resume, but don’t repeat facts verbatim. Help the reader understand your resume by making direct connections from the resume to the position. Remember, the reader is probably unfamiliar with your experiences, so you may need to explain your background and how it relates to this particular position. 

As you write this section of the letter, do not draw attention to irrelevant aspects of your background, and certainly do not bring up any areas of weakness. The letter should be positive, with specific examples that demonstrate your readiness for the opportunity at hand. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for your work. Make two or three key points in depth, rather than several points briefly.

In this paragraph you can make a statement or suggestion about what comes next. Perhaps let them know how and when you plan to follow up (by phone next week; by e-mail in two weeks, etc.). Suggest that they contact you to arrange an interview, offer that they may contact you if they need any further information, and thank them for their time and consideration.


Sign your name here

(Leave approximately 4 blank lines for your signature.)

Your Name (typed)

(Be sure you have referred to the enclosures in the body of the letter.)