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Cover Letter Outline to Help You Land the Job

December 21, 2021

Most of the time, when you’re applying for a new job, the company will ask you to submit a cover letter. Cover letters play an important role in helping you land the job. They offer you the chance to show your personality, connect with the potential employer and set yourself apart from other candidates. Because of this, you need to know how to write a winning cover letter that will attract the attention of the hiring manager.

Luckily, Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley provides this free cover letter outline that you can use to get started. Using a free template as a guideline can make writing cover letters on Google Docs simpler and give you the confidence you need to submit your application. Take Goodwill’s advice and use this cover letter outline to impress your potential employers.

What Is a Cover Letter?

Cover letters are formally written documents sent to potential employers along with your resume to apply for jobs. They typically have three key paragraphs on a single page. These paragraphs give you the chance to say why you want the position, what you would bring to the company and how your relevant experience suits the job.

Why Cover Letters Are Important

With countless candidates applying for the same job, you need to distinguish yourself. With a cover letter, you can tell the hiring manager more about who you are and how you would fit the company. Cover letters help potential employers understand your unique qualifications, highlight why they should specifically hire you and motivate hiring managers to schedule an interview. That’s the goal you want to aim for with your cover letter: landing an interview.

Difference Between Cover Letters and Resumes

Resumes and cover letters complement each other, though they don’t provide the same information to employers. A resume offers a more comprehensive look at your education, experience, skills and previous employment. Here, employers might learn what hard skills you have or how your career has progressed up until the present.

On the other hand, cover letters dive deeper into how your relevant experience connects to the requirements of the job you’re applying for. It’s your cover letter that will likely catch the company’s attention rather than your resume, since cover letters have more personality. You can hone in on particular skills and accomplishments, show enthusiasm for the future and engage with whoever reads your cover letter.

Formatting Tips

If you don’t use the proper formatting for your cover letter, the hiring manager may dismiss your application altogether. Goodwill advises you to have a well-formatted, readable, error-free cover letter to demonstrate your professionalism and attention to detail.

Here are the key formatting tips to know:

  • Keep your cover letter to one page or less
  • Use a basic, easy-to-read font such as Arial, Verdana or Times New Roman
  • Set your font at 10- or 12-point size
  • Use 1-inch margins
  • Leave plenty of white space on the page

With these formatting tips, your cover letter will look professional and be easy for applicant tracking systems to read.

Nailing the Tone

Capturing the right tone for your cover letter can be difficult because you have to sound authentic, enthusiastic and professional. You want to engage the reader without using too much flattery or humor. The language should be clear, concise and dynamic. Try to focus on the future and how you want to use your experience moving forward instead of dwelling on the past. You can even use your research on the copy to try and match their style and tone.

Cover Letter Template

Here is Goodwill’s free cover letter outline template. You can use this template as a starting point before customizing it to the unique job you want to apply for. Remember, cover letters should never be copied and pasted. Each cover letter should be tailored to a specific job application and company.

How to Start

Start cover letters with your contact information, the date and the hiring manager’s contact information. With company websites and social media, you’ll have an easier time finding information about the hiring manager.


Your Contact Information:



City, State Zip Code 

Phone Number

Email Address 




Employer Contact Information:

Name of the Hiring Manager

Job Title 


Company’s Address

City, State Zip Code



Cover letters are formal business letters that need an appropriate greeting. If you have the name of the hiring manager, address them directly. You can say:

  • Dear (Hiring Manager’s name)

However, if you do not have the hiring manager’s name, use instead:

  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • To Whom It May Concern
  • Dear Team or Department

These salutations will start your letter off on the right foot.

First Paragraph

Your first paragraph serves as your official introduction. It should immediately capture the attention of the hiring manager and build a rapport with them. UK-based career strategist John Lees recommends leading with a strong opening sentence. Address why you find this specific job position exciting and what you bring to the company. Afterward, briefly talk about your background and relevant experience and why they align with the job requirements. When possible, you can strengthen your cover letter by using the keywords from the job posting.

Second Paragraph

In the same article for the Harvard Business Review, contributing editor Amy Gallo says, “Hiring managers are looking for people who can help them solve problems.” Your second paragraph serves to describe what you have to offer and how you can help the company solve its problems.

Draw the hiring manager’s attention to specific accomplishments that highlight your skills and strengths. Always support statements you make about yourself with evidence, such as actions or figures. Then, draw connections between your relevant experience, accomplishments and strengths and why they make you the company’s ideal match.

Concluding Paragraph

For your third paragraph, wrap up the cover letter. Reaffirm your enthusiasm for the position and summarize your qualifications. You should also thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration and let them know how and when you plan to follow up on your application. Finish this paragraph by expressing how you look forward to hearing from them and moving to the next stage of the hiring process.

Signing Off

Finish your cover letter by formally closing and signing it. You can use:

  • Respectfully Yours
  • Sincerely
  • Kind regards
  • Thank you for your consideration

When submitting a hard copy of your cover letter, you should sign it by hand. For a digital copy, it’s okay to type your professional name.

Strengthen Your Skills to Land the Job

Creating a well-written and engaging cover letter takes time, practice and patience. However, your cover letter could make all the difference in helping you land your dream job. Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley is here to empower you in your journey to meaningful employment. We provide comprehensive career services to everyone at no cost, including resume review, skills training and career coaching. If you’re interested in our job and training services, don’t hesitate to reach out through our website or call us today at 301-662-0622.