Federal Cover Letter Example

Written by Mark DeGrasso

May 4, 2023

If you’re applying for a government job in the United States, you’ll likely need to submit a federal cover letter. This document serves as an introduction to your application materials and tells the employer why you’re the right fit for the position. A well-crafted federal cover letter can set you apart from other applicants and increase your chances of landing an interview. In this article, we’ll guide you through the essential components of a federal cover letter and give you an example to follow.

What Employers Look For In A Federal Cover Letter Example Cover Letter

Applying for a federal job can be a daunting task, but crafting a well-written cover letter can make all the difference. In addition to tailoring your cover letter to the position you’re applying for, there are several other factors that employers look for.

First and foremost, it’s essential to demonstrate your understanding of the federal government and its mission. This can be achieved by researching the agency you’re applying to and incorporating relevant information into your cover letter. Employers want to see that you have a genuine interest in working for the federal government and that you understand the role you would be playing.

Another crucial aspect of a federal cover letter is highlighting your relevant qualifications and experience. Employers want to see that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the position. One way to do this is to address the most critical qualifications listed in the job posting. Make sure to emphasize your experience in those areas and how it makes you a suitable candidate.

Clear and concise writing is also essential in a federal cover letter. Employers receive numerous applications, and they don’t have time to read through lengthy or convoluted cover letters. Make sure to get straight to the point and use simple language. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may not be familiar to the reader.

Attention to detail is another critical factor in a federal cover letter. Employers want to see that you have taken the time to review the job posting and tailor your cover letter accordingly. Make sure to address the specific requirements listed in the posting and provide examples of how you meet those requirements.

Finally, a professional tone of voice is crucial in a federal cover letter. This means avoiding slang or informal language and using a respectful and courteous tone. Employers want to see that you take the application process seriously and that you understand the importance of professionalism in the workplace.

In conclusion, crafting a well-written federal cover letter requires careful attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the position and agency you’re applying to. By highlighting your relevant qualifications and experience, demonstrating your understanding of the federal government and its mission, and using clear and concise language, you can increase your chances of landing the job.

Essential Components of a Federal Cover Letter

When applying for a federal job, it’s important to have a well-crafted cover letter that highlights your qualifications and interest in the position. Here are some essential components you should include in your federal cover letter:

  1. Contact Information: At the top of your cover letter, include your name, address, phone number, and email address. It’s important to make sure your contact information is up-to-date and easy to read. Additionally, include the date you’re writing the letter to give it a professional touch.
  2. Introduction: Your cover letter should begin with a professional greeting and state the position you’re applying for. This is also a great opportunity to briefly explain how you learned about the position and why you’re interested in it. For example, if you found the job posting on a job board, you could mention that you were intrigued by the job description and decided to apply.
  3. Body: The body of your cover letter is where you’ll really shine. This is your chance to demonstrate how your experience, skills, and education qualify you for the position. It’s important to use specific examples to support your claims and show that you’ve done your research about the agency and the position you’re applying for. For instance, if you’re applying for a job with the Department of Education, you could mention your experience working with children and your passion for education. Be sure to tailor your cover letter to the specific job you’re applying for.
  4. Closing: Your cover letter should end with a strong statement of interest and a request for an interview or further discussion. This is your chance to reiterate why you’re the best candidate for the job and why you’re excited about the opportunity. Provide your contact information again so the employer can easily get in touch with you, and thank them for their consideration.

Remember, your cover letter is your chance to make a great first impression on a potential employer. By following these essential components, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a winning federal cover letter.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing a Federal Cover Letter

When applying for a federal job, it is important to write a cover letter that stands out from the rest. However, there are some common mistakes that applicants make that can hurt their chances of getting hired. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Using jargon or technical language: While it may seem impressive to use technical language in your cover letter, it can actually work against you. Federal hiring managers come from a variety of backgrounds and may not be familiar with your industry-specific terms. Keep your language simple and easy to understand.
  • Making generic statements: Avoid making generic statements that could apply to any job. Instead, provide specific examples of how your experience and skills align with the requirements of the job you are applying for. This will demonstrate that you have taken the time to research the position and are genuinely interested in it.
  • Exaggerating or lying: It is never a good idea to exaggerate or lie about your experience or skills. Federal hiring managers take this very seriously and may investigate any claims you make. If you are caught lying, it can result in disqualification from the hiring process or even legal consequences.
  • Failing to proofread: One of the most common mistakes is failing to proofread and edit your cover letter. Typos and errors can make you appear careless and unprofessional. Take the time to carefully review your letter before submitting it.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can increase your chances of getting hired for a federal job. Remember to be honest, specific, and professional in your cover letter, and you will be on your way to success.

Final Steps On Writing Your Federal Cover Letter

Now that you have crafted your federal cover letter, it’s important to take these final steps to ensure that it stands out from the rest:

Firstly, carefully read the job posting again, and ensure that you have addressed all of the required qualifications and preferences. Make sure that you have highlighted how your skills and experiences align with the job requirements, and how you can add value to the organization.

Secondly, it’s always a good idea to show your cover letter to someone you trust, such as a mentor or a career counselor, to get feedback on its clarity and effectiveness. They can help you identify areas that need improvement, and provide suggestions on how to make your letter more compelling.

Thirdly, proofread your letter again, and make sure it’s error-free. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes, and ensure that your sentences and paragraphs flow smoothly. You want to make sure that your letter is easy to read and understand, and that it leaves a positive impression on the hiring manager.

Finally, make sure that you submit your letter and application materials on time. You don’t want to miss the deadline and risk losing out on the opportunity. Double-check the submission instructions and ensure that you have included all the required documents.

By following these final steps, you can increase your chances of getting noticed by the hiring manager and landing your dream federal job. Good luck!

Example Federal Cover Letter

Here’s an example of a federal cover letter that follows the essential components we’ve discussed:

July 15, 20XX

Ms. Jane Smith
Human Resources Manager
Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Ms. Smith,

I’m pleased to submit my application for the Program Analyst position with the Department of Transportation. I learned about this opportunity through USAJOBS, and I’m excited about the prospect of working for such a vital agency.

As someone who has always been passionate about transportation, I am thrilled at the possibility of being able to contribute to the Department of Transportation’s mission. During my tenure as a Program Analyst with the Federal Highway Administration, I gained valuable experience in transportation policy analysis. This experience would enable me to contribute significantly to the agency’s mission. My expertise in data analysis and modeling, as well as my experience in developing and implementing evidence-based policies, would be instrumental in supporting the Department of Transportation’s initiatives.

In my current role, I’ve worked closely with senior leadership to design and execute transportation research projects. I’ve also led cross-functional workgroups addressing complex policy issues, such as transportation equity and accessibility. These experiences have honed my ability to communicate technical information to diverse audiences clearly. I am confident that these skills will be invaluable in contributing to the Department of Transportation’s mission.

Furthermore, I am excited about the Department of Transportation’s commitment to innovation and sustainability. As someone who values the importance of protecting the environment, I am thrilled at the prospect of being able to work for an agency that shares these values. I believe that my experience in developing sustainable transportation policies can help further the agency’s goals in this area.

I’m passionate about the work of the Department of Transportation and excited at the prospect of applying my skills and experience to support the agency’s mission. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss further how I could contribute to the organization. Please find attached my resume and other supporting documents. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


John Doe

Federal Cover Letter FAQ

Are you interested in applying for a federal job? Here are some frequently asked questions about federal cover letters:

  • How long should my federal cover letter be?
  • Your cover letter should be no more than one page. Make sure to keep it concise and to the point. The hiring manager will appreciate your ability to communicate your qualifications effectively.

  • Should I include salary requirements in my federal cover letter?
  • No, you should not include salary requirements in your cover letter. Wait until you’re offered the position to negotiate salary. The federal government has a structured pay scale, and it is important to research the salary range for the position you are applying for before entering negotiations.

  • What should I do if I don’t meet all the qualifications listed in the job posting?
  • If you don’t meet all the qualifications, don’t let that discourage you from applying. Focus on highlighting your relevant experience and demonstrating your ability to learn quickly on the job. Use the cover letter to explain how your skills and experience make you a good fit for the position. Highlight any transferable skills you may have that can be applied to the job.

    It’s also important to note that some job postings list qualifications as “preferred” rather than “required.” In this case, it’s still worth applying if you meet most of the qualifications and can demonstrate your ability to learn the rest on the job.

    Make sure to also research the agency or department you are applying to and tailor your cover letter to their mission and values. This will show the hiring manager that you have a genuine interest in the position and are a good fit for the organization.


A well-crafted federal cover letter is essential to showcase your qualifications and experience and demonstrate your interest in a government position. Follow the essential components we’ve outlined here and use the federal cover letter example as a guide to craft your own compelling letter. By doing so, you’ll stand out to potential employers and improve your chances of landing the job you want.