How to write a cover letter with no experience, a first job cover letter, or an entry-level cover letter that makes the best impression.
Was it fun writing your federal resume?
How many pages was it?
4? 8? 20?
Now, imagine if you had to read hundreds of those a day and make decisions based on that.
Wouldn’t you like to know if they’re worth your time?
A good federal cover letter will convince the hiring manager to read even a 50-page resume.
So, let’s make you stand out.
In this guide:
- Two federal cover letter examples: one for someone with experience, and one for someone with no experience.
- What rules to follow regarding the cover letter format.
- A 15-minute template that you can update with your information.
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Looking for different cover letter examples? See:
- Human Resources Cover Letter
- USPS Cover Letter
- CIA Cover Letter
- Cover Letter for Legal Job Application
- Cover Letter with No Experience
- Nonprofit Cover Letter
- Short Cover Letter Examples
What is a Federal Cover Letter?
A federal cover letter is a one-page document demonstrating your work history, professional skills, and personal interest in applying for a governmental position. It is advisable to write a federal cover letter to accompany a long resume or stand out from the crowd.
Here are two federal cover letter examples. See how they manage their resources to get themselves to an interview.
1. Federal Cover Letter Examples
The first federal cover letter sample comes from Matthew, who is applying for an administrative management position with NASA. It will be within his scope to recommend short-term solutions and long-term plans, liaising with high-ranking agency officials, congressional staff, state, legislative, and private sector executives.
Let’s see how he handles it.
Example #1: Experienced Federal Cover Letter Sample
Example #1: Experienced Federal Cover Letter Sample—Text version
27 Noreen Avenue
Mountain View, CA 94035
Mountain View, Jan 25, 2020
Mountain View, CA 94035
It is with enthusiasm that I submit my application for the position of Administrative Manager at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the NASA Ames Research Center. During my 12+ years as a personnel clerk, and then administrative chief in the US Navy, I am equipped with the right staff management and large-scale organization skills to improve the efficiency of operations at Ames.
In the Navy, in the last 5 years I was responsible for orchestrating aircraft carrier deployments with my team of 14 clerks and administrators. Getting every piece of paperwork right, the right supply channels, and taking care of every order, repair and soldier before a 100,000 tonne ship sails out for 6-24 months is a gargantuan responsibility. Overall, I took part in administrating over 150 deployments, and was personally responsible for 50+ of them. As a chief, I was responsible for liaising with the most senior Navy and other military officials, congressional staff and politicians, as well as representatives of the government. We maintained good relationships with all these branches, and on more than one occasion could count on their support or leniency in a tight spot. During this time, my team had 0 major incidents, and responded to two crisis situations in a timely and effective manner. I believe I can bring the military discipline and careful attention to detail across to NASA to increase the safety, comfort and efficiency of the astronauts and researchers alike.
I believe the skills I gained in the Navy are directly translatable to the reality of NASA, and my calmness, military discipline, and error-free meticulousness will secure the level of stability that the most innovative and groundbreaking of the government agencies requires.
When could we meet to discuss the time the crew of a non-nuclear aircraft carrier on the way to training maneuvers in the Pacific arrived in Japan only to discover the fuel supplier missed a zero on the order and only had 10% of the fuel? You’ll never believe who helped us out.
Matt’s smooth sailing, and ready for a rocket-like takeoff.
Need to write a federal cover letter for an entry-level position? After all, the government offers many positions to recent graduates.
Check out Steven’s cover, he’s applying to be an intern with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The role isn’t pre-specified, they make assignments to different departments bases on the interests, knowledge, and background of the candidates.
Therefore, Steven’s cover letter for a federal internship talks in detail about his experiences.
Example #2: Cover Letter for Federal Internship without Experience
Example #2: Cover Letter for Federal Internship without Experience—Text Version
Steven M. Walter
2724 Bagwell Avenue
Orlando, FL 32810
Orlando, Jan 25, 2020
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1 Main Avenue
Orlando, FL 32810
I was waiting impatiently for you to reopen your CFPB Summer Internship admissions. As a recent 4.0 GPA graduate of a Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation from Utica College, and a ACFE-certified Fraud Examiner, I am ready to serve the American public and root out predatory and abusive financial practices.
In the last year of my college study, I took an internship as a Fraud Analyst at the TQC Financial Group. During this 2-month placement, I was able to stay abreast of financial crime risk trends, relevant regulations, and compliance standards. The work mainly focused on white collar crime. During this time, I took part in detecting over 150 instances of fraud, totaling a prevented cost to TQC and clients of $1.5m. I also took part in investigation and prosecution activities of automatically-detected (or suspected) fraud, working on over 100 cases totaling over $2.1m. TQC’s main clients were medium to large privately-held companies, and I learned the typical mechanisms of corporate fraud, as well as navigating the records, systems, and patterns of these companies. I was offered a full-time position at TQC with the end of the internship, but I decided to apply my talents to protecting individual, private persons, whose livelihoods are at risk after instances of fraud, instead of safeguarding multi-million dollar company profits.
Serving the American public is extremely important to me as Navy League Cadet, and fraud is a personal issue for me, as my mother and father were defrauded of all their savings and ultimately, their house, as a result of abusive lending practices. For this reason, working at CFPB and securing financial markets for consumers would be extremely gratifying to my personal calling.
When could we connect in person or by call to discuss how my corporate fraud analysis experience can translate to detecting and combating large-scale, low-stakes, individual target fraud?
Steven M. Walter
Have you written your resume yet? Here is our guide: Federal Resume—Examples and Writing Tips
Haven't found what you're looking for? Check all our best cover letter examples.
Let’s write your own federal cover letter.
2. How to Write a Sound Cover Letter For Federal Jobs
1. Square Up The Federal Cover Letter Format
Deep within the cogs of the bureaucratic machine (where you’re going), organization, rules and order are everything. This is not a creative job, probably. Present your case very clearly by using the established formatting rules.
This is a solid cover letter format:
- Make sure your font is the same as your resume font. Pick a legible one: Bell MT, Cambria, Times New Roman, etc.
- Always ‘Align Left’. There is no need to use justification.
- Use 1.15 line spacing, and leave an empty line between every section and paragraph.
- Use at least a 1-inch margin on every side.
- Perfect cover letter length? 1 page.
It’s time to consider what to include in your cover letter.
2. Make Your Federal Cover Letter Header Match Your Resume
The header of your cover letter should match your resume header. Below your details you should put the city and date of the letter, and the details of the correct hiring manager below. Often, you will be applying impersonally through government portals. Call them up to check who’s handling it.
Check against these:
Federal Cover Letter Sample Header
[ Your Full Name]
[ Your Job Title ] (Optional)
[ Phone Number ]
[ Email Address ]
[ LinkedIn Profile ] (Optional)
[ City and Date ]
[ Hiring Manager’s Full Name ]
[ Hiring Manager’s Position ]
[ Company Name ]
[ Company Street Address ]
[ City and Zip Code ]
Expert Hint: If you’re applying online, there are some specific issues to keep in mind when sending your legal cover letter electronically, which our email cover letter guide will clue you up on. At ResumeLab, there is also always more cover letter tips, dos and don’ts to know.
3. Introduce Yourself By Identifying The Position You’re Applying For
Most likely, you applied to a federal job through an online federal portal, and they know what position you’re applying to. Equally likely, the person reading your federal cover letter has read 500 of them today, and can barely remember their own name.
Address your cover letter by first name. At the start of your cover letter, identify which position you’re applying for, and supply a solid reason to keep reading—an achievement, or something quantifiable that will set you apart from the rest of the candidates.
Start by filling these [blanks]:
Federal Cover Letter: Introduction
Dear [Hiring manager’s name],
I was excited to find the opening for a [target position name] at [target organization name]. Having spent the last [number of years]+ years as a [previous position title], I have devoted my energy to developing [very strong relevant skills you have] skills that will allow me to handle the [key requirement from the job posting] at [target organization name] effectively and contribute to [key goal of the organization].
Expert Hint: For a most comprehensive directory of Federal jobs, use USAJOBS. It is ran by the Office of Personnel Management, and is the official government resource to find employment. It allows you to search by a certain entry path, for example, for veterans. You can use a lot of factors to find your dream job, then use a targeted resume to get it.
Double your impact with a matching resume and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter builder and make your application documents pop out.
Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.
4. Give Them Reasons To Hire You
Whether the federal job is clerical, behind the scenes, or community facing, don’t make the cardinal mistake of forgetting whose interest is always meant to be at the forefront. The institution’s. Focus on what you can do for them, especially in terms of goals or projections they have made.
What are their problems right now? What is the most crucial requirement in the whole job posting? Focus on that. Be the problem solver, and the person ready to take on any challenge. Back it up from numbers and achievements from your resume.
Start with this:
Federal Cover Letter Sample: Second Paragraph
[Organization name] are seeking a [target position name], with competencies in [refer to the requirements of the job]. At [previous employer name], I have acquired priceless expertise in [refer to the requirements of the job], which brought about a [a metric, achievement, or statistic that proves your excellence in this area]. I have also devoted a lot of time to developing my [type of skill] skills through [relevant responsibilities, duties, or projects you’ve successfully completed, supported by metrics, if possible]. My experience in [key important requirement] combined with [target position name]’s established practices and resources will bring about positive outcomes for your institution, as well as the people it serves.
5. Show Them The Passion
Some federal and government jobs are not the most glorious, or the most rewarding. It takes the right kind of person to stay in such a job, and even more so, to excel in it. An element of passion, or a calling, must often be present in someone to go in this direction.
If this sounds like you, articulate your motivation in this paragraph. Don’t flatter excessively, but instead explain how the approach and goals of the institution align with your own, and the resulting culture-fit will result in good outcomes for everyone.
Fill in the [blanks]:
Federal Cover Letter Sample: Third Paragraph
By joining [target organization name], which devotes so much time and energy to [the mission of the agency/their values/their activities/other], I would finally be able to apply my [skills/experience] to [what the organization does] and help the American public [what the organization does for the public].
6. Ask For an Interview And Close the Deal
Yeah, sure, the recruiter still has to trawl through several pages of your federal resume, but perhaps...this could be hard to imagine—he really doesn’t want to? Give them an out.
Just before you sign off your cover letter formally, ask for a meeting or a call to discuss something you have expertise on that will benefit this government agency and its clients—that most likely being the American public.
Federal Cover Letter Sample: Sign Off & Call to Action
When would be a good time to have a call or a meeting to discuss how my [your best, most relevant skill/experience/their most important requirement] experience can help [target organization name] achieve [something important to them or the American public]?
[Digital copy of your handwritten signature]
[Your Full Name]
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As you write a cover letter for federal positions, remember to:
- Match the cover letter header to your resume header, and check that the contact info is up to date—both for you and the hiring person.
- Identify the position you’re applying to, and introduce yourself with a relevant achievement in the first paragraph.
- List your best achievements that match the requirements of the job, and back them up with numbers and evidence in the second paragraph of your federal cover letter.
- Show some genuine interest in the organization and the cause, do some research, and write about something that struck you personally in your last paragraph.
- Request an interview and sign off.
Do you have any more questions about writing a cover letter for federal jobs? Did you find our federal cover letter example helpful? Leave us a comment, I’ll be more than happy to hear from you!