Person writing cover letter on a desk

7 Steps to Write a Civilian Cover Letter

2018 is a great time to be a Veteran job-seeker in the United States. The economy is booming, and thousands of jobs are being created every day. If you’re looking for a job, you need to add a cover letter to your resume. Cover letters are a fantastic way to separate your resume from the rest of the crowd.

Before we begin, download our template here so you can build your cover letter along the way.

1. Understand the Goal of a Cover Letter

A cover letter paints a picture of you and why you should get the job.  A civilian cover letter explains who you are, what job you are applying for, and why the company should hire you over anyone else. You need to write a specific cover letter for each different job you apply for.

2. Choose a Type of Cover Letter

There are a few different kinds of civilian cover letters you could write.

  • An Application Letter
    • An application letter is used when there is an open position at a company or business
    • An application letter connects what the job requires and what specific skills and experiences you have that will satisfy the position
  • A Prospecting Letter
    • A prospecting letter is used when there is not an open position at a company you would want to work for
    • A prospecting letter highlights why you would be a good person to fill a position that may open up with the company
  • A Networking Letter
    • A networking letter’s main goal is to identify a connection between you and the reader
    • You may know the person you’re writing the letter to, or you were referred to them by someone they know

For the rest of this blog, we will be showing how to write an application letter.

3. The Header

The first section of any cover letter is straightforward. You will need to put your name, address, the date you write the letter, the employer’s name, the employer’s job title, and the company’s address.


Picture of how a Cover Letter Heading should look like

4. The Greeting and the First Paragraph

The greeting should be something as simple as “Dear Mr. Smith” or “Dear Mrs. Smith.”

The first paragraph’s purpose is to focus on the position or the type of work you’re applying for. Let the employer know how you found the job, whether it was online or referred to you by a friend. Also, do a little research about the company, and write something specific that you noticed.


5. The Second Paragraph

The second paragraph is where you need to connect your skills and experiences to the specific requirements needed for the job. Look at this section from the employer’s side. Don’t talk about how having this job will benefit you; talk about how hiring you will benefit the company. Detail your qualifications and experiences that best relate to the job position, then talk about the “intangibles” of your character. Try not to just list a bunch of things you did in the past (that’s covered in your resume). Make it easy for a hiring manager to tie your skills and experience to the job descriptions. Address the job descriptions specifically, because those are the things that the employer will be looking at.


6. The Final Paragraph

The final paragraph’s purpose is to refer the employer to your resume and to summarize the first two paragraphs of your cover letter. Continue to stress that you are the right person for the job.

Lastly, guide the employer to the next step of the process: setting up an interview. It’s not wrong to say  “I look forward to setting up an interview with you to discuss the job.” Also, express your availability for interviews, phone calls, or Skype calls. Don’t limit your opportunities for them to contact you! Make sure you put your phone, email, and any other contact information you want the employer to have. Finish the paragraph by thanking the employer for reading your letter and resume.


7. Closing

Finish your letter with a “Sincerely,” and then put a 4 line gap between the “Sincerely” and then type your name. This gap is where you will hand sign your cover letter. The very last thing you must do is write “Enclosed” on the very bottom of your cover letter. This means that the cover letter comes with other documents, such as a resume or certification forms.


Picture of how you should end a cover letter

Tips and Tricks

There are a few basic tips and tricks that will take your cover letter from good to great.

  • Make your cover letter 1 page! Employers don’t have time to read a lot of pages!
  • Include aspects of your personality and personal characteristics
  • Address the letter to a specific person in the company
    • Sending the letter to a real person shows the company that you’ve done at least a little research and that you’re interested in working for the company
    • Avoid using terms like “To whomever it may concern” or “Dear Mr. or Mrs…” without putting a name. Terms like this aren’t personal and can make your letter seem lazy
  • If someone referred you for the job or if you heard about the job through networking, mention that in the first paragraph
  • When printing, use a high-grade/quality paper for both your resume and your cover letter
  • Use key terms in your cover letter directly from the job description. This will help you get past an automated review!

If you follow these steps, you will create a great cover letter that will increase your chances of getting hired! Now that you have this cover letter, it would be nice to have a solid resume to go along with it. If you need to make a resume, VetCV can help! The VetCV Vault has a resume builder that will let you print out a PDF of your resume for FREE! 


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