How To Write a Military-To-Civilian Cover Letter (With Template and Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 1, 2021 | Published November 5, 2020

Updated March 1, 2021

Published November 5, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Serving in the military can prepare you for a wide variety of civilian job opportunities. When making this transition, you want to capture employers' attention and prove that your military background makes you an ideal candidate to support their business. To do this, you must submit a cover letter detailing your most relevant and transferable skills. In this article, we explain how to write an effective military cover letter and provide a template and example letter to help you start writing yours.

Related: Veteran Career Advice: Making a Transition To Civilian Life

What is a military cover letter?

A cover letter introduces you to a potential employer, aiming to show them why you are a qualified candidate for the job. A military cover letter demonstrates how your military service enables your transition as a veteran into a civilian job. It adds context to your resume, allowing you to provide specific examples of the military experiences or skills that prove your abilities. You can also use the letter to explain why you are making the transition into civilian life.

Related: How To Write a Military-to-Civilian Resume: Highlighting Your Military Experience

How to write a military cover letter

When transitioning from the military to a civilian position, you need to explain why your background makes you a qualified candidate. Use these steps to write a compelling military cover letter:

1. List contact information

At the top of your cover letter, you need to list your contact information to ensure the employer knows how to reach you for further conversations. Include your name, physical address, telephone number and professional email address. Then add the date, followed by the recipient's information. List their name, title, the name of the company and its address. If you are sending your cover letter via email rather than a hard copy, you can skip this step.

2. Use a personalized greeting

Next, you will need to address the specific person to whom you are writing. This provides a more personal interaction and shows the recipient that you took the time to research the company. Use a formal greeting such as "Dear" and use a title, such as "Mr." or "Ms.," followed by their last name. If you are unsure of the proper title to use, you can address the recipient by their full name.

Try your hardest to find the recipient's name so you can personalize the letter. For example, you can conduct internet searches, look at the company website or contact the company. If you still do not have a specific name, avoid using generic, overly formal greetings such as "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam." Instead, try to address them by their title or to the department to which you are applying.

Related: How To Address a Cover Letter (With Examples)

3. Introduce yourself

Start your first paragraph by expressing interest in the job you are applying to, along with how you found it. You will also want to capture the reader's attention, so briefly introduce yourself and your military background. Describe it in a way that connects to the position to show you have relevant experience. For example, you might mention your experience using a specific technology or employing certain behaviors mentioned in the job description.

4. Detail your background and skills

In your body paragraph, you will connect your prior experience to the job requirements. Use the job description to determine what qualifications the employer is seeking, then write about the most relevant skills or tasks from your military role. You should describe how these skills will enable your success in this position. You can also list significant, relevant achievements from your time in the military. These accomplishments offer the demonstrable benefits you bring to employers.

Make it clear how you will add value by researching potential problems facing the company or department. Then use the rest of your body paragraph to describe specific examples of how you solved similar issues in the past. By doing this, you show the employer that you have relevant experience creating solutions and could do the same for them.

Related: 12 Military Skills To Put on a Resume for any Job

5. Write your conclusion

In your final paragraph, you will thank the employer for their time and consideration. You should restate your interest in the position and further impress them by mentioning how you specifically hope to help the company or team if hired. If you have not yet left the military, you can provide details on when you will be making the transition.

Finish by letting the employer know that you look forward to discussing the opportunity further with a job interview. You can also offer to answer any additional questions or provide anything else they may need, such as a list of references.

6. Include a sign-off

Always finish your letter with a professional sign-off such as "Sincerely," followed by your full name. When sending a hard copy, leave a space between the sign-off and your typed name for your signature. If you are sending the letter via email, you do not need to include a signature but should list your contact information below your name.

Tips for writing an effective military cover letter

Consider using the following tips to create an optimal cover letter for your military-to-civilian transition:

  • Customize each cover letter. Always tailor your letters to each opportunity by using keywords and language from the job descriptions. You can use a template to help yourself start writing, but avoid sending the same document to a variety of employers and positions. Customization shows employers that you understand their specific needs and how you can support them.

  • Keep your letter concise. It should be no longer than one page, ensuring that the employer will have time to read through it. You can play with formatting by listing three to five relevant experiences or accomplishments as bullet points within the body paragraph. This can help quickly attract the employer's eyes and provide your qualifications in an easy-to-read format.

  • Go beyond your resume. Your resume offers a brief overview of your experience, so use your cover letter to more fully introduce yourself and your abilities. Through specific examples, you can create a narrative on how your military background taught you the skills needed to succeed in this civilian job opportunity. You can also go in-depth on why you want to make this transition or work for their organization.

  • Include relevant training or education. As part of this transition, you may have received specialized training to pursue your new career. If so, mention these qualifications within the body paragraph to prove you have gained additional or technical skills that will help you accomplish the responsibilities of the role.

  • Avoid military jargon. When applying for civilian jobs, be sure to explain your military background in plain language that anyone can understand. Explain your experience in terms of both technical skills and soft skills such as leadership, organization and team-building.

Related: Military To Civilian Title Translations To Improve Your Resume

Military cover letter template

To see the above advice applied in an easy-to-follow format, here is a template you can use to get started writing your military-to-civilian cover letter:

[Your name]

[Your address]

[Your phone number and email address]

[Date]

[Employer's name]

[Employer's title]

[Company's name]

[Company's address]

Dear Mr./Ms. [Employer's name],

[In two to three sentences, express your interest in the job opportunity and briefly describe your relevant experience. You can also mention how you discovered the position, particularly if it was through a referral or job assistance program for veterans.]

[Body paragraph(s): Build upon the relevant experience or background mentioned in your introduction by including specific examples of skills, responsibilities or accomplishments from your military service that align with the job. In the same or a separate paragraph, describe how you will add value by providing an example of how you have previously solved problems similar to ones the company faces.]

[Closing paragraph: In two to three sentences, thank the employer for their time, reiterate your enthusiasm and let them know you hope to discuss the job further during an interview. Consider including a specific example of how you hope to support their company if hired.]

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Military cover letter example

To get a deeper understanding of how to apply the above template, refer to the following sample military cover letter that applies each of the points discussed:

Mary Paulson

123 Main Street, St. Louis MO 63113

123-456-7890 | marypaulson@email.com

November 10, 2020

Kris Strickland

Hiring Manager

Ritzer Industries

1234 Elmer Street, St. Louis MO 63113

Dear Mr. Strickland,

I am excited to be writing to you to apply for the position of network/system administrator at Ritzer Industries. For the past five years, I have served as a cyber network systems administrator for the U.S. Marine Corps. This experience, along with my proficiency in various platforms (including Linux and Windows) and my Cisco networking certifications, makes me an ideal candidate for this role.

I understand you want a candidate to maintain your data security along with the installation, troubleshooting and testing of your systems. I have the hands-on experience of leading a team that created quality solutions to streamline and automate our network processes, along with enhancing security. I spent significant time testing and troubleshooting network connectivity issues and setting up routers, which led me to improve system efficiency by 40 percent.

I understand the importance of secure data, so I am eager to ensure Ritzer Industries' data and its communication networks are safe and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions, and I look forward to discussing this opportunity further during an interview. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Mary Paulson

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