A cover letter is an important element of your job application. Follow this perfect cover letter outline to demonstrate why you’re the right candidate
The Perfect Cover Letter Outline
An Excellent Cover Letter Outline
A cover letter is an integral part of your job-hunting process. Use this perfect cover letter outline as a template to follow.
What Is a Cover Letter Outline?
A cover letter should work alongside your resume for a professional job application. It should highlight your essential skills and experiences to the hiring manager that will help show you as a viable candidate for the role. However, it is a one-page letter, so it needs to be clear and concise - a summary showing that you would be a valuable addition to the employer.
An effective cover letter should answer some of the questions an interviewer would ask at the interview stage. It’s about drawing the line between your qualifications, skills, and work experiences and the job description to show your potential employer you’re perfect for the role.
Before you dive straight in, you should create a cover letter outline to ensure you cover all the bases in your cover letter format. This should include a header, the first paragraph where you establish your career goals, the second paragraph where you give a broad outline of your experience and qualifications, finishing up with a closing paragraph and a polite sign off.
Cover Letter Outline You Can Use
The header sits at the top of your page. You should include contact information so the recruiter can easily see how to reach you. This means sharing your full name, phone number, street address, city, state, and ZIP code. Besides these, it’s good to share a professional email address, like a Gmail account, and relevant links to social media and LinkedIn profiles.
Following your contact information, include the contact details of the hiring manager or recruiter, missing out their name if you do not know it.
2. First paragraph: Start strong.
Begin with a salutation or greeting that is professional and polite. If you know it, it’s always better to address the hiring manager by name: “Dear Mr. Adam Smith” instead of saying “Dear Hiring Manager”, for example.
The opening paragraph needs to quickly establish that you are a serious, viable candidate. As such, you should try and hook the reader with a strong opening that summarizes your career highlights. This short opening is essentially a sales pitch, a condensed overview of why they should consider you as a candidate. You can focus on specific skills, professional experience, or industry-specific expertise with enthusiasm that conveys a passion for the work.
If you heard about the job through a referral, we advise mentioning this in your first paragraph.
3. Second paragraph: Expand on your qualifications, skills, and experience.
Next, write more about how you are suitable for the role in the middle paragraph. If you are questioning what to highlight, you can look at the job title, job description, and job posting for inspiration as to what the employer is looking for. You can use this to shape what you write.
This should not go overboard, filling in every little detail of your career to date. Whatever you share should be relevant and honed to focus on the strengths that align you to the advertised role.
This section is also an excellent opportunity to show why you chose their company above others. Do some research on the company’s website about their direction, ambitions, and objectives as a company and make reference to this here – evidencing your research shows that you are keen.
4. Third paragraph: call to action
In your final paragraph, you should encourage action on their part. Restate your interest in the position before reiterating a summary of your strengths. Then, press the employer to contact you and take the next step. Thank the recruiter for their time, but say you look forward to further discussing the role, perhaps in a phone call or interview. You should also make your potential employer aware that there is an enclosed resume for a more detailed look at your credentials.
The complimentary closing should be short and sweet, as professional and polite as your opening. Some examples include: “Best Regards”, “Sincerely”, and “Thank you for your consideration”. Follow this with your signature and printed name.
Cover Letter Tips
Now that you are aware of the basic cover letter outline, you should start thinking about writing your cover letter using the cover letter builder and taking inspiration from other cover letter examples.
Here are some cover letter writing best practices:
Don’t just repeat your resume.
Your resume is a separate document - don’t simply rehash what’s featured there into your cover letter. The aim of a cover letter is to hint at your strengths as a candidate to entice the reader to continue and examine your resume. Use a cover letter template to help you write a well-crafted resume.
Show how you can help the company.
It’s not just about showing what a great worker you are with all your skills and experiences - it should be about showing why you are valuable to them, what you can bring to their company, and how you will benefit the team.
You should explain how you can perform the duties of the role but also outline how you envision helping the company beyond the responsibilities outlined in the job description. This can set you apart as a candidate since recruiters don’t often come across this ambition and foresight in a cover letter.
Cover Letter Outlines
Yes, an effective cover letter is a necessary component of any serious job application. Many Human Resources departments simply won’t consider applications without one. It is your opportunity to set yourself apart as a candidate and help draw the line between your skills and experience and the role, outlining your suitability for the recruiter.
You should include keywords that are relevant to your industry. This may consist of current buzzwords or industry-specific terminology and jargon. Some good places to mine for these keywords are the job description itself, the company website, or cover letter samples from your industry.
It’s okay if you don’t have professional achievements of note - you may be an entry-level candidate or a recent graduate, for instance. Also, depending on the position, you do not necessarily need to have professional achievements to be hired at a job anyway. The key here is to outline what you can provide to the company and why you’re an asset to have. If you don’t have professional achievements, then you’ll need to demonstrate your relevant skill set.