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Cover Letter Outline: Sample + Tips

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You might think you don’t need a cover letter because your resume already shows how competent you are. Although a resume gives some insight of your capabilities based on your education, skills and experience, it doesn’t exactly tell the hiring manager the unique qualities that make you different from other applicants. This is what your cover letter is for.

A cover letter is your opportunity to showcase not only your communication skills—it lets you answer specific questions the employer might have as part of the hiring process, and suggest solutions that will help grow the company.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document that, along with your resume, is sent with your job application. It’s your chance to tell a potential employer why you’re the perfect person for the position and how your skills and expertise can add value to the company. The letter should be professional but personable and serve as an introduction.

woman sitting on stool while typing cover letter

Cover letter outline

Unlike your resume, which is a straightforward list of former employers, accomplishments and job titles, your cover letter gives you a chance to display your character, address any gaps in your work history, explain why you’re passionate about the job and demonstrate your written communication skills.

All of this can be done in three paragraphs or less. A good cover letter is like a firm handshake — it shows that you’re confident. It’s one more opportunity for the hiring manager to get to know you and for you to make a positive impression on them.

A well-written cover letter can be the difference between getting a job you want or getting no response at all. But how should it be formatted, and what elements should you include? 

In this guide, we’ll go over the anatomy and outline of a cover letter and provide you with some examples that may help as you write your own.

Your contact details

Your Name
Street Address
City, ZIP code

Date and the hiring manager’s details

Month Day, Year
Employer Name
Title
Company
Street Address
City, State ZIP

Salutation

Dear Mr./Ms.____________,

The most formal way to greet in a cover letter is to use the hiring manager’s last name in your salutation. 

First paragraph

Introduce yourself, state the position you are applying for and how you found the job listing. Try to answer the following as concise as possible in the first paragraph:

  • Why are you a strong candidate? 
  • What can you offer? 
  • How would the company benefit from hiring you? 

If a specific person referred you to this position, mention this in your first paragraph.

Second paragraph

Highlight your qualifications and skills that pertain to the position and explain why you would be an excellent fit for the company. What are your most vital selling points, and what makes you stand out from other applicants? 

This is where your research about the company will come in handy. Relate your qualifications to the job posting and express enthusiasm for the position and organization. Mention specific relevant qualities or experiences on your resume that make you a strong candidate for the job. Be sure to include skills listed in the job description or title of the posting (if applicable).

The key is to start with your qualifications and use them as a springboard into why you’re the right person for this particular job. Make sure that every sentence leads naturally to what you want to say next.

Third paragraph

This paragraph restates the position you seek, your qualifications, and your interest in the position. Conclude by thanking them for their time and letting the hiring manager know how they may be able to reach out to you for the next step of the hiring process.

Complimentary closing

You can use “Regards” or “Sincerely yours” as a sign-off to your cover letter. Write your name in print and add your signature as a personal touch.

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Cover letter example

To further guide you, you can study this sample cover letter for a Customer Service position in Talktech, a call center company:

Jane Doe
#123 Fields St.
Flowerville County
North Dakota, 112233

February 1, 2022

Mr. John Doe
Hiring Manager
Talktech

Dear Mr. Doe,

As an experienced customer service representative, I am excited to apply for the Customer Service Representative position at Talktech. With my four years of experience in customer service and excellent track record in achieving yearly goals, I am confident that I will be a great addition to your team.

My current role as a Customer Service Representative at LiveTalks has allowed me to master the art of customer care and build lasting relationships with customers. During my tenure, I have increased customer satisfaction ratings by 10%, reduced customer complaints by 25%, and increased sales by 30%. I also received Employee of the Month honors for three months. My attention to detail and commitment to customer satisfaction is evident and demonstrated my ability to perform well under pressure and meet deadlines.

Additionally, I am well-versed in multiple computer programs, including Excel, Outlook, and Word. We also use company-owned software in answering calls. My experience handling high call volumes and difficult clients makes me confident that I will excel in this role.  

I’m confident that working at ABC Corp will help me develop these skills even further. I look forward to hearing back from you. I would love to come into the office or attend a virtual interview to discuss my qualifications further. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to review my application. 

Sincerely,
Jane Doe

woman writing cover letter

Tips on writing a good cover letter

It is important to remember that your cover letter isn’t just there to convince someone to give you a chance. When you apply for a job, you’re also trying to persuade the employer that they should hire you instead of anyone else. This means that you need to convince them that you deserve the job and are qualified enough to accept the offer.

A good cover letter is like an elevator pitch for your resume—it’s in service to your potential employer, so it needs to have some “salesmanship” in it.

You’ve probably seen plenty of advice online regarding cover letters but don’t know where to start or how to write yours effectively. Our tips below will show you precisely what you need to do to create a winning cover letter:

Research the company and its culture

Do some research on the company culture. What do they value? What are they trying to accomplish? If possible, find a connection between what you want and what they want. 

Highlight your qualifications, achievements and case studies

Don’t just list your skills, achievements, and experience—provide concrete examples that show how these have helped previous employers or clients. How many customers did you retain? How much money did you save them? How did your actions benefit the company as a whole?

Be enthusiastic about the role

Your cover letter is an opportunity to show how your strengths will benefit the employer in this specific role. Explain what about this job interests you and why you’re qualified for the position.

Keep it brief, concise and relevant to the role

The worst thing you can do is make the letter too long. Keep it short and to the point. No one wants to read a five-page cover letter, no matter how qualified you are.

The second worst thing? Making it generic. Don’t send a carbon copy of your letter to every employer you apply to. Customize each one to a specific job and company.

In a nutshell, no matter what type of job you’re looking for, a good cover letter will always help. It’ll help get your resume noticed and help get your foot in the door for an interview.

Good luck, you!

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