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Writing the Perfect Government Job Cover Letter

Resource Writing the Perfect Government Job Cover Letter

By John Calderon

If you’re applying to a public sector or government job for the first time, do not use the same cover letter format as you would for a private sector job. While cover letters have become more of a formality in the private sector and are sometimes overlooked, they are still very much used in government recruiting during the initial phase of evaluation, and not including one can prevent you from becoming an eligible candidate that makes it past the first stage. Use your cover letter to callout that you have the minimum qualifications, knowledge, skill, and ability to perform the position. It's also beneficial to a include a sentence that demonstrates your understanding of the agency’s mission. Here are some guidelines to crafting an excellent government job cover letter and
a template you can use to write your own.

Font and format

While in recent years, private sector resumes and cover letters have become more elaborately designed to stand out to hiring managers, it’s important to stick to the basics when putting together your public sector cover letter. Use fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or Helvetica that are standard in business and easy to read. 

Additionally, make sure that the spacing of the letters are easy to read and the margins are at least a half inch. Keep the letter direct, concise, and avoid flowery language. Never write a cover letter that is longer than a single page.


Just as you would with a private sector job, you’ll want to include a header that contains your name and contact information, the current date, and the name of the hiring manager or recruiter responsible for this position. Use the real name whenever possible; if you don’t know it, it’s okay to just list the agency name and their address.


Address the contact by their correct title and last name. If you’re unable to find their name, then it’s okay to use something more generic but still professional, such as “Dear Sir/Madam.” 

On the first line, state the agency role you’re interested in and briefly explain why you’re qualified for the position. An added sentence about how the agency’s mission or goals align with your own experience is a bonus. Especially if you’ve never worked in the public sector before, it’s important that you quickly mention one or two job experiences that are transferable to the role or the public sector as a whole to help make a case for why you're qualified and interested.


This section is your opportunity to demonstrate why you’re the ideal candidate, so make sure you’ve studied the agency’s website, reviewed the job description thoroughly, and put thought into how your professional experience relates to the requirements. The stringent minimum requirements of the role and KSA keywords that are used in the job description should be incorporated into this paragraph to maximize the chances of getting progressed to the eligible stage. It’s also important to remember to give tangible success stories based on facts and numbers rather than vague terms.


This is where you’ll reiterate your interest in the role and thank the hiring manager for their time in considering your application. Make sure to add a call-to-action that encourages them to reach out if they are interested, e.g. “I would love the opportunity to give you more insight on how my relevant experience and skills can benefit your agency.”

Government job cover letter template

Remember, the following is meant to serve as a template, but don’t just plug your relevant details in and call it a day. Make it your own! The more you tailor the cover letter to the job you are applying for and how your experience applies, the more likely you are to get a chance to interview.

[Your full name]
[Your phone number]
[Your email address]

[Current date]

[Hiring Manager or Recruiter full name]
[Agency mailing address]

Dear [Hiring Manager or Recruiter Full Name],

I am writing to express interest in [job title] at [agency name]. [Address how your personal beliefs or strengths align with the agency’s goals.] I believe my [number of years] of experience as a [relevant job role] has afforded me the [key skills or abilities] to contribute to [agency name] in a meaningful way, particularly with regards to [goal you have strong interest and/or transferable experience in].

I have attained a wide variety of skills throughout my work history that match up with the key requirements you are looking for, including:

  • [First job listing requirement & tangible proof of previous experience] 

  • [Second job listing requirement & tangible proof of previous experience] 

  • [Third job listing requirement & tangible proof of previous experience] 

Thank you for taking the time to review my qualifications for the role. I’d love to discuss how my skill set can make a positive impact at [agency name].

[Your name]


John Calderon is the Content Strategist at and NEOGOV, the leader in developing cloud public sector human capital management solultions. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of California, Los Angeles and has spent over a decade creating content as a marketing professional and journalist.

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