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Written by Debbie BrideDebbie Bride

Government cover letter example

Applications for government jobs can be complex, but there's no doubt that an excellent cover letter will help. Read the guidelines below to get started.
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Government cover letter example
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Stable, high-paying, secure and abundant, government jobs are highly coveted. From the federal to the state to the local level, government jobs are numerous and relatively recession-proof. This writing guide will walk you through the steps necessary to write a government cover letter that will help put you on the path to one of these sought-after jobs. 

What we’ll discuss in this guide, along with our government cover letter example:

  • The best format for a government cover letter
  • The six components of a successful cover letter
  • Common mistakes you need to avoid

Resume.io is a leading global provider of job-search advice, and you can find a lot more tips in our 125+ occupation-specific cover letter examples and writing guides. 

Best format for a government cover letter

To format a government cover letter properly, first you need to get the structure right. Cover letters should be one page only, and must include five essential elements:

  • The greeting / salutation
  • The cover letter intro
  • The middle paragraphs (body of the letter)
  • The ending paragraph of your cover letter (conclusion and call-to-action)

Aside from the basic structure, proper formatting also includes issues of design and layout. Your cover letter should look as good as it reads. This means choosing a professional font, including adequate margins and leaving enough white space so your page doesn’t look too packed. More formatting advice can be found in our comprehensive guide to cover letter writing.

Here’s a government cover letter example that you might use as inspiration for your own: 

Adaptable cover letter example

Dear Mr. Kallteith,

Fluency in four Asian languages has ensured me a varied career, both in commercial and governmental settings. I spent ten years working with the U.S. Government as an attache in Hong Kong and upon my move back to Washington, I am seeking employment in the state department as an interpreter and translator.

I have high-level bilateral interpreting experience, have participated in over 40 missions and trade visits to the Far East and am deeply aware of the cultural issues that sometimes occur in U.S. – Far East communication. I help to fill in the gaps of what has not been said in sometimes overly-formal diplomatic language. I won an award for my transcreation work of the recent cultural roadmap strategy and have translated over 750,000 words of government documents and correspondence.

My background prior to my translation career was in PR, so I am used to analyzing press releases, writing succinct analytical texts and using the fewest words possible to convey the desired message. I know that NGO outreach is a key activity for your near-term strategy, and my previous work for a number of Taiwanese NGOs on their international communications teams will stand me in good stead with that activity. My PR role offered a deeper insight into the cultural norms of the region and continues to offer a background to my simultaneous interpreting work.

My previous boss is currently working in the department and is happy to offer an internal recommendation. She alerted me to the possibility of the role, and I would be delighted to come in for an interview to find out more.

Sincerely,

Sarah Galterley

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There’s a vast variety of government jobs out there, but whatever your specialty, take some time to review other cover letter samples and writing guides for your specialization:

Cover letter header

The cover letter header, which used to be known as a letterhead, is the section at the top where you put your name, occupation, address, phone number and email. Do not include a photo, at least for U.S. government jobs, as the government’s own guidelines instruct applicants to leave photos out

Expert tip

You can save a lot of time – and sidestep potential formatting errors – by using a professionally designed cover letter template as a framework for your header.

Cover letter greeting

The ideal greeting for a government cover letter addresses the appropriate hiring manager by name: Dear Mr. White, Dear Ms. Greene, etc. Many job listings will not tell you the name of the hiring manager, but it’s always a good idea to try to find out if possible.

Especially in government applications, you may not know who to address. If it’s not possible, then go with a generic greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Here’s a greeting from our adaptable cover letter example:

Adaptable cover letter greeting example

Dear Mr. Kallteith,

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Cover letter introduction

The introduction of your government cover letter should get off to a strong start, making a compelling opening case for your candidacy. Your first paragraph may briefly mention your experience, education, training and/or special skills – whatever your most impressive qualifications are. 

Avoid flabby language or cliches, and try to hook the reader immediately so that s/he keeps reading. See our sample cover letter introduction below.

Adaptable cover letter introduction example

Fluency in four Asian languages has ensured me a varied career, both in commercial and governmental settings. I spent ten years working with the U.S. Government as an attache in Hong Kong and upon my move back to Washington, I am seeking employment in the state department as an interpreter and translator.

Copied!

Cover letter middle part (body)

The middle part of your government cover letter, known as the body, needs to provide the “meat and potatoes” of your case. If you have experience in your field, lead with that – not just mentioning where you’ve worked before, but how you brought value to your previous roles. 

Be specific, using facts and figures where possible. Consider relating a brief anecdote about how you solved a thorny problem in a past job. If your educational credentials are impressive, or if you have certifications that are important in your field, mention those here as well. 

Also, try to say something here about why you want this particular job and not just any job. And try to focus on the employer’s needs, not your own, by showing how your contribution will benefit the agency to which you’re applying. See the cover letter sample below for ideas on how to craft a strong body for your letter.

Adaptable cover letter body example

I have high-level bilateral interpreting experience, have participated in over 40 missions and trade visits to the Far East and am deeply aware of the cultural issues that sometimes occur in U.S. – Far East communication. I help to fill in the gaps of what has not been said in sometimes overly-formal diplomatic language. I won an award for my transcreation work of the recent cultural roadmap strategy and have translated over 750,000 words of government documents and correspondence.

My background prior to my translation career was in PR, so I am used to analyzing press releases, writing succinct analytical texts and using the fewest words possible to convey the desired message. I know that NGO outreach is a key activity for your near-term strategy, and my previous work for a number of Taiwanese NGOs on their international communications teams will stand me in good stead with that activity. My PR role offered a deeper insight into the cultural norms of the region and continues to offer a background to my simultaneous interpreting work.

Copied!

In closing: How to conclude a government cover letter

Your government cover letter conclusion should remind the agency of the key qualities that will make you an excellent hire. It should also include a call to action – you want the recipient to do something as a result of your letter, not just set it aside. 

Let the reader know that you look forward to a response and that you’re always available for an interview or even an informal talk on the phone.

Close with “Sincerely,” “All my best” or another appropriate sign-off. Add a space below that and type your name. Here’s an acceptable conclusion from our government cover letter sample:

Adaptable conclusion and sign-off cover letter example

My previous boss is currently working in the department and is happy to offer an internal recommendation. She alerted me to the possibility of the role, and I would be delighted to come in for an interview to find out more.

Sincerely,

Sarah Galterley

Copied!

Key takeaways

  1. You can’t afford to make any typos or other writing mistakes in your cover letter, so proofread carefully or find an editor to review it.
  2. Do not send the same cover letter to all employers. Target each employer specifically, addressing its needs and showing how you will help with its mission.
  3. Avoid unattractive design and improper formatting. Check out the cover letter sample above for ideas on how to create a great layout, that way you can build your own cover letter. 
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