Cover Letter Outline and Writing Tips
Using a cover letter outline can expedite the process of writing an effective cover letter. It can assist in ensuring a correct cover letter format, as well. A job seeker can use the following cover letter outline to act as a cover letter template and writing guide.
Before you start writing. And putting together your own cover letter. Take some time to think about what you believe your future employer’s needs are with the role. Look through the job description, the company about page, recent company news, or any other relevant source that may provide insight.
From here, start to think about your career accomplishments. You may have listed a few on your resume already, which is okay. You’ll want to reiterate them in your cover letter. As the recruiter, hiring manager, or potential employer hiring for the role may look at the cover letter first.
Remember, writing the perfect cover letter entails predicting what the hiring manager or company may value for the specific job you’re applying for. Then trying to support your qualifications through career accomplishments and portraying an understanding of those requirements.
Tip: Keep the cover letter design simple. The cover letter format should be readable and professional. The hiring manager will appreciate a professional cover letter over a "creative" cover letter.
Cover Letter Outline
Cover Letter Writing Tips
Best cover letter writing tips when using a cover letter outline.
Focus on the opening paragraph
Always make your opening paragraph supportive of what you believe they might value. This is helpful if you are incorrect about your prospective employer's values; they can contact you to correct it.
A cover letter should be one-page. And never exceed one-page. Use the resume to complete the full picture of the previous employment history for the hiring manager.
Find the hiring manager's name
If you don’t know the hiring manager's specific name, saying “Dear Hiring Manager” is okay. But it would help if you referred to the team or CEO instead.
The hiring manager's name can be found on the job description. Or through LinkedIn. When a name can't be found, address the department by name, instead. Avoid terms like "to whom it may concern."
Close the cover letter with intent
Always make your closing paragraph a call to action. Read your resume, contact you at these times, visit your website or LinkedIn profile. Or something similar.
Avoid generic phrases
You don’t need to say, “Please see my enclosed resume,” just state that the hiring manager read your resume.
Don't focus on word count
Always make your cover letter as short as possible. But pack in as many insights as you can. This will test your writing skills but is important in making a great cover letter.
Make it easy on the hiring manager
Include information like schedule or availability. This will make it easier for the hiring manager to contact you. And provide available times for a phone interview or on-site interview. Include this information at the end of the cover letter.
And if unable to attach a series of recommendation letters or references. Then include that information at the bottom of the cover letter. Informing the hiring manager that the references are available upon request.
Customize the cover letter
The perfect cover letter for a job application is one that’s tailored to the employer and the role. Always tailor the cover letter to the information contained in the job description. Or information found on the "About Us" portion of the corporate website.
Avoid writing a generic cover letter that doesn't sound personalized to the person reading it.
There is no perfect cover letter
When writing a cover letter, remember there is no "perfect cover letter." Only a letter that has gotten tailored and customized to the recipient. And to the company. Try to be the ideal candidate by aligning values and beliefs. Instead of only aligning previous work experience.
Use a cover letter outline or template
Using a template or cover letter outline can expedite the customization process in the job search. A cover letter outline won't assist with the writing process. But it can save valuable time. And ensure that the cover letter gets formatted correctly.
Line up all information
Be sure to coordinate the information in the cover letter with the information contained in the resume. Or the job application. Be sure the letter connects with the hiring manager. Don't repeat the information displayed in the cover letter on the resume. Use unique insights for the cover letter and resume, respectively.
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
Job search resources
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