Cover Letter Outline and Writing Tips

a picture of business person and cover letter outline examples

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

Contact Details:

Your Name
Phone number
Email
LinkedIn URL

Current date

Hiring Manager’s Name/Recruiter’s Name
Organization/Company Name
Job title

Salutation:

Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs. (Hiring Manager’s Last Name):
When possible, address the reader or specific person the job application is getting sent to.

First Paragraph:

Open with a strong first paragraph that supports what you believe the role and company both value. Use this as a way of telling the hiring manager that the resume and cover letter have gotten designed around your ideas. And around what they value.

Second Paragraph:

Please take a few career achievements and place them here. You can list them in bullet style format or speak to them through significant work experiences. Keep it brief. Mention that you believe these accomplishments show relevant skills and abilities that are right for the job.

Third Paragraph:

Close your cover letter with a clear call to action. Mention available times to have a phone interview. Or suggest they continue to read your resume for more insights on what you can bring to the company.

Closing Sign-off:

Thank you so much for your time,
Your name

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.

Favorite Resources

Our favorite resources are included below.

Job interview resources

Resume and cover letter resources

Job search resources

free interview question and answer full guide

Interview Question and Answer Guide (PDF)

Download our full interview preparation guide. Complete with common interview questions and example answers. Free download. No email required.

Download PDF
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

Share

Help us by spreading the word