How to Create Your Own Cover Letter Outline (5 Easy Examples to Follow)

By
Astley Cervania
October 31, 2022
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There are different ways to write a cover letter. 

Despite the structure of most applications being similar, there are some noticeable differences. It all depends on what you choose to highlight to your hiring manager. 

While it can be difficult, it’s quite simple when you’re following an effective cover letter outline.

So in this guide, we’ll be going over 5 types of basic cover letter outlines, including how to create your own. This is applicable to professionals at all levels and those of you making a drastic career change. 

Without further ado, let’s dive right in. 

Why Is an Outline Important for Your Cover Letter? 

It helps you write a more thoughtful application.

Think of the outline process as a battle plan for war.  

Without a strategy based on factors such as the number of your troops and the terrain, you’re more likely to lose the battle. 

In terms of writing a cover letter, it means organizing your thoughts and tailoring your application to win the favor of your hiring manager. But what you write about and focus on depends on factors such as:

  • Professional strengths
  • Years of experience
  • Transferable skills
  • Job description
  • Company culture

Having everything laid out makes it less likely for you to forget any important details. 

It becomes more straightforward to write a coherent application that flows well. Moreover, it helps you write faster since it guides your train of thought so you’ll know what to be thinking about. 

As opposed to writing from scratch, you won’t be as distracted by other thoughts or ideas. 

What Makes a Good Outline for a Cover Letter?

A good cover letter outline ensures you’re not missing any key bits of information. The same applies to resume outlines

Here’s an example of what an outline for your header section could look like:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Date
  • Email address
  • Personal address
  • Company name
  • Name/title of the person you’re addressing

If your entire cover letter is structured like this before writing, it becomes easier to make a concise and well-put-together application. 

That said, a cover letter should include:

  • Header section
  • Greeting and salutation
  • Opening paragraph
  • Main body
  • Closing paragraph
  • Signoff

5 Basic Cover Letter Outline Examples to Follow

There are multiple ways to outline and structure your cover letter. 

However, it’s not the same for everyone since we’re all at different stages in our professional careers. 

Some of you may have years of experience whereas some of you may not. The former group of job seekers could want to focus on how experienced they are. In contrast, the latter could want to focus on an alternative aspect. 

With that in mind, follow or take inspiration from the outline below that’s most relatable to you. These are especially useful if you’re writing from a Google doc or Microsoft Word document. 

Cover Letter Outline 1: Highlight Your Skills and Experience

Director of marketing cover letter

The director of marketing cover letter template is a good example of highlighting your skills and experience. 

Here’s a general overview of the outline used:

  • State the position you’re interested in and provide a brief introduction of your work background
  • Expand on your introduction by describing an overview of key job responsibilities 
  • Focus on a previous role where you carried out relevant duties and mention results
  • Share your areas of expertise and objectives which show how you’re a good fit 
  • Thank the reader for their time and imply the next steps

Cover Letter Outline 2: Highlight Your Results

Event planner cover letter

The event planner cover letter sample positions the job seeker as the ideal candidate to hire. This is because of their years of experience alongside the results they’ve achieved in the industry. 

There are different ways to write a cover letter. 

Despite the structure of most applications being similar, there are some noticeable differences. It all depends on what you choose to highlight to your hiring manager. 

Here’s a general overview of the outline used:

  • State how you came across the job posting and briefly introduce yourself 
  • Write about your industry experience and achievements 
  • Use bullet points to list further accomplishments with data 
  • Mention other skills and technical proficiencies
  • Leave a personal note, thank the reader for their time, and drop your contact details

Cover Letter Outline 3: Highlight Your Academic Background

Research assistant cover letter

The research assistant cover letter sample emphasizes your academic background alongside your passions. 

Here’s a general overview of the outline used:

  • State the position you’re interested in and provide an introduction by mentioning your qualifications and career goals
  • Explain how your academic experiences have helped you develop your skills
  • Share how your experiences improved your technical proficiencies (feel free to also share the work aspects you’re most passionate abou
  • Summarize how you’d be a good fit for the role
  • Thank the reader for their time and imply the next steps

Cover Letter Outline 4: Highlight Your Passion and Interest

Senior Analyst cover letter

The senior analyst cover letter has more implications for the future value the applicant could bring to the table. 

Here’s a general overview of the outline used:

  • State the position you’re interested in and why you’re keen to work for the company
  • Share relevant job responsibilities you carried out in the past

While it can be difficult, it’s quite simple when you’re following an effective cover letter outline.

So in this guide, we’ll be going over 5 types of basic cover letter outlines, including how to create your own. This is applicable to professionals at all levels and those of you making a drastic career change. 

Without further ado, let’s dive right in. 

Why Is an Outline Important for Your Cover Letter? 

It helps you write a more thoughtful application.

Think of the outline process as a battle plan for war.  

Without a strategy based on factors such as the number of your troops and the terrain, you’re more likely to lose the battle. 

In terms of writing a cover letter, it means organizing your thoughts and tailoring your application to win the favor of your hiring manager. But what you write about and focus on depends on factors such as:

  • Professional strengths
  • Years of experience
  • Transferable skills
  • Job description
  • Company culture

Having everything laid out makes it less likely for you to forget any important details. 

It becomes more straightforward to write a coherent application that flows well. Moreover, it helps you write faster since it guides your train of thought so you’ll know what to be thinking about. 

As opposed to writing from scratch, you won’t be as distracted by other thoughts or ideas. 

What Makes a Good Outline for a Cover Letter?

A good cover letter outline ensures you’re not missing any key bits of information. The same applies to resume outlines

Here’s an example of what an outline for your header section could look like:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Date
  • Email address
  • Personal address
  • Write down the aspects of those job responsibilities that fueled your passion
  • Explain how you further developed your skills
  • Clarify your career goals and imply the next steps

Cover Letter Outline 5: Highlight How You’re a Strong Cultural Fit

Recent graduate cover letter

This is quite similar to the previous outline. However, the recent graduate cover letter template has a stronger focus on how the candidate aligns with the company culture. 

Here’s a general overview of the outline used:

  • Introduce yourself and mention how you meet the hiring criteria 
  • Share a bit about your personal background by talking about your passions and interests
  • Write about a time when you carried out relevant job responsibilities
  • Talk about what excites you the most about the job opportunity 
  • State your career goals and imply the next steps

How to Create Your Own Cover Letter Outline 

The main elements of writing a good cover letter involve:

  • Contact details
  • Introduction
  • Professional background 
  • Workplace achievements
  • Passions and interests
  • Call to action

You can customize the structure of your cover letter in the order of your preference as long as it includes the elements listed above. 

1. Understand Your Strengths

The structure of your cover letter depends on your strengths. 

From the outlines above, you may have noticed that they’re based on different things. Although each of them has its own competitive advantages, they all help the candidate explain why they’re the best person for the job, which is the whole point of a cover letter

So to determine what you’re going to focus on, first understand your strengths. Here are some questions to consider: 

  • What are your strongest areas of expertise? 
  • What are you most passionate about? 
  • How do you align with the company culture? 

2. The Header Section

This includes your contact information as well as the greeting and salutation. Fill out what’s essential here such as your name and the date. If you can, address your employer by their name too. It demonstrates both your commitment and level of research skills. 

3. Figure Out How You’re Going to Introduce Yourself 

In the opening paragraph, think about how you’re going to introduce yourself. 

You could share some highlights of your professional background. For example, your biggest accomplishments and corporate skills. 

Or, first talk about how you came across the job opportunity and a goal or passion you’re actively pursuing. Was there something about the company mission that caught your attention and motivated you to apply?

Here are some other areas you could focus on to introduce yourself:

  • Academic background
  • Mutual connections
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Work results

4. Structure the Main Body

After the introduction in the opening paragraph, it’s now time to move into the main body of your cover letter. This can be made up of more than one paragraph. The first could focus on your experience and workplace achievements, then the next could focus on your academic background, and so forth. 

There are different aspects of your career to talk about. Prioritize your strengths as well as what’s most relevant and important first. 

5. Show Your Enthusiasm

The final paragraph of your main body summarizes everything discussed. Once again, you’re expressing your interest and enthusiasm.

Mention how everything you’ve written about in the main body will benefit them. 

Another option is to share how you could help them reach their goals. Remind them of how your objectives align to imply you’re a good fit for the organization. 

6. The Next Steps and Signoff

This is your closing paragraph. It’s usually the shortest part of your cover letter but it’s not only where you thank the recruiters for their time. 

Make the next steps you’re looking forward to clear such as:

  • Scheduling an interview
  • Following up via email
  • Reiterating how you could be of assistance

Or alternatively, you could do a final statement about how your objectives align with the company mission if you haven’t already. From there, it’s followed by a signoff with your full name. A digital signature is optional.

50+ Professional Cover Letter Examples Broken Down 

Want to see what makes the best ATS cover letters?

In a separate guide, we’ve broken down more than 50+ professional cover letter examples

Under each sample template, we go through what makes each of them effective. So, you can take inspiration from this to improve your application and chances of landing an interview at your dream company! 

Is There a Point in Outlining Your Cover Letter When You Can Generate One Automatically? 

You might be surprised at this but cover letter outlines aren't always necessary…

There’s a method you could use to skip the outline process. In fact, doing this allows you to skip more than half of the writing process without having to do much yourself.

All you need to do is the following: 

  • Company name
  • Position/title
  • Position highlight
  • Skills highlight
  • Finally, press “AI writer ready”

Then, wait for the AI writer feature to create your cover letter by itself. As it uses information from both your resume and the job description, it ensures a personalized application that meets the hiring criteria. 

Watch the short clip below to see how it works! 

There’s a Reason Why Rough Sketches Are So Useful

A rough sketch helps an artist get into their creative flow. It also makes it easier for them to articulate their thoughts and ideas. 

Likewise, a cover letter outline simplifies the entire writing process. 

Everything becomes more straightforward when you have a strong foundation. Spend a few minutes outlining your application and it’ll minimize the number of edits and rewrites you’ll have to do once it’s completed. 

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