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How to Write a Cover Letter
Advice for tackling one of the toughest parts of the job-hunting process.
Perhaps the most challenging part of the job application process is writing an effective cover letter. And yes, you should send one. Even if only one in two cover letters gets read, that’s still a 50% chance that including one could help you. Before you start writing, find out more about the company and the specific job you want. Next, catch the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter with a strong opening line. If you have a personal connection with the company or someone who works there, mention it in the first sentence or two, and try to address your letter to someone directly. Hiring managers are looking for people who can help them solve problems, so show that you know what the company does and some of the challenges it faces. Then explain how your experience has equipped you to meet those needs. If the online application doesn’t allow you to submit a cover letter, use the format you’re given to demonstrate your ability to do the job and your enthusiasm for the role.
No one likes job hunting. Scouring through online job listings, spiffing up your résumé , prepping for grueling interviews — none of it is fun. For many, the most challenging part of the process is writing an effective cover letter. There’s so much conflicting advice out there, it’s hard to know where to start. Do you even need one, especially if you’re applying through an online system?
- Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, cohost of the Women at Work podcast , and the author of two books: Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People) and the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict . She writes and speaks about workplace dynamics. Watch her TEDx talk on conflict and follow her on LinkedIn . amyegallo
How to write a cover letter
A cover letter is your first introduction to a potential employer, so it needs to show that you’re a suitable candidate.
A cover letter is an important document that introduces your resume to potential employers and highlights your suitability for the role. The effort you put into a well-tailored cover letter can go a long way to convincing a prospective employer that you’re a highly motivated candidate, and will help you to stand out in the application process.
The purpose of a cover letter
A common misconception is that a cover letter is simply a reiteration of the information on your resume . However, the structure and purpose of each document is different. While your resume is a polished summary of what you’re offering, your cover letter is a professional letter that introduces your application and reasons for applying for the job, linking the relevant skills and experience on your resume to the job requirements and organisation.
An effective cover letter demonstrates to a potential employer:
1. A strong interest in the role and the organisation
Employers want to hire candidates who are genuinely interested in their job, not just any job. Do your research and explain why the organisation appeals to you.
2. How you meet the selection criteria
Focus on the skills and attributes the employer has mentioned in the job advertisement. In your responses to selection criteria , offer short examples of how you have developed or utilised your skills for a positive outcome.
3. Excellent written communication skills
A cover letter should be written using professional language and structured paragraphs. Proofread your letter for spelling and grammatical errors.
Cover letter tips
The primary emphasis should be on what you could contribute to the organisation, rather than on what you expect from the organisation. For a cover letter to be effective:
- Keep it to one A4 page.
- Ensure your name, address, phone number and email address are included on the letter.
- Include the title, name and job title of addressee (spelled correctly), as well as the organisation’s name and address on the letter. Only use “Dear Sir or Madam” if you can’t find the hiring manager’s name.
- Be clear about which job you are applying for by referring to the job title or vacancy number listed in the job advertisement.
- Use a professional font (eg, Arial, Calibri – nothing too ornate or difficult to read) and keep your formatting consistent with your other application documents.
- Indent or leave a space between each paragraph.
- Send your cover letter as an attachment, do not type it into the body of the email.
- Do not send the same generic letter to every employer. It must be closely tailored to the job and the organisation.
- Keep the information in your resume and cover letter consistent – your cover letter should not introduce experience that you have not listed in your resume.
Use our cover letter template
Need more cover letter tips, how to write a resume.
A clear, tailored and professional resume is essential for any job application. It should aim to convince an employer that your qualifications, work experience and skillset make you a strong match for the job.
Addressing selection criteria
Selection criteria are the skills, knowledge, and experience required to successfully do the job.
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How to write a Cover Letter – Guide with Examples
Not every job application requires a cover letter, but every job application can benefit from one.
Along with a customised CV , which should include a strong personal profile, the cover letter lets you add specific information that puts you right at the heart of the job you are applying for. That means it’s really important to get it right.
Writing a winning cover letter is a skill. If you’re unsure what to include, our guide will help you:
What is a cover letter and why is it still important?
How to research and plan your cover letter.
- The basic format of a good cover letter
How long should a cover letter be?
- Address the hiring manager
- Use the job description
- How to market yourself in your cover letter
- How to structure and write your cover letter, with examples
- Use a ‘cold’ cover letter to approach a company you’d like to work for
- How to send your cover letter
A cover or covering letter is a brief, single-page document that accompanies your CV when you apply for a job.
Its purpose is to introduce yourself and to highlight your key skills, particularly those that are relevant to the job you are applying for. It’s your chance to showcase both your personality and suitability.
It’s important to remember that the cover letter is independent of your CV – in other words, it shouldn’t be just the same information presented differently. It needs to position you as the right person for the job by highlighting skills that you have that are essential for the role. For this reason, your cover letter should be tailored to every application.
Some recruiters will receive hundreds or even thousands of applications for a role, so your cover letter is your chance to stand out from the crowd and it’s an essential component of the application process.
Download our cover letter template
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” is a saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and it’s true. Planning is key to the success of any endeavour, and it’s certainly true for your cover letter and your CV .
These are the important things you should research before you begin writing your cover letter:
- Who will be receiving and reading your cover letter? This will likely depend on the size of the company doing the hiring – if it’s a small organisation, it may well be the CEO or owner of the business. For a larger company, it will most likely be the hiring manager or the head of HR.
- What skills and experience are listed in the job description? What skills do you have that this role calls for? Do you have other skills that you believe will be of benefit to the company and position? Put those in your cover letter and then detail why you think they’re relevant and important.
- The company and its culture. Any reputable company will have some form of online presence where you can do this research. If they don’t have their own website (which is highly unlikely) then they will most certainly have some social presence: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are good places to check.
- The company’s competitors and market position. This information too can usually be found online. Some organisations have obvious competitors – Nike and Adidas, for example – but it won’t always be this obvious. There are free trials available with tools such as Semrush , Ahrefs that can help you identify a company’s competition.
- The sector and any recent news or trends. Which sector or industry do they operate in? Do some online searches for news, using Google or any other search engine with a ‘news’ results tab.
- The organisation’s aims for the coming year and beyond. This information can be trickier to find. You could start on LinkedIn and search for key employees; those with CxO roles may well share goals, roadmaps and more on their profiles.
Building up a good body of information about both the company and its industry will help you tailor your cover letter for each company you apply to. It also shows your passion for the job and sector.
The basic format of a cover letter
Every cover letter you write should be tailored to the specific job role or company you’re applying for, but there is a basic format to follow for every cover letter:
- Paragraph one – The introduction
- Paragraph two – The by-line
- Paragraph three – Show your knowledge
- Paragraph four – Conclusion
Brief, probably less than one side of A4 – 250-300 words maximum.
A cover letter is important but remember, it’s an accompaniment to your CV , not your actual CV.
Address the hiring manager or recruiter
Just like your CV, every cover letter you submit should be written to match the job role you are applying for, and it should be comprehensive and, if possible, personalised:
- Personalise it – find the name of the hiring manager or the person most likely to receive or read your application in the first instance. Addressing a named person shows that you’re thorough and thoughtful in your approach. Sign off with “Yours sincerely”.
- If you don’t have that information and can’t specify a name – then start the letter with “Dear Sir or Madam” – but remember your grammar and sign off your letter with “Yours faithfully”.
You should also avoid tired and clichéd buzzwords .
Use the job description to tailor your covering letter
This is possibly the most vital aspect of the cover letter. If you don’t take the opportunity to state that you have the necessary skills and experience, you may as well not bother!
Detail your skills and provide examples of how you have used them in the past to succeed in your own goals and those of the company you were working for. Mirror some of the phrases used in the job requirements list.
You will most likely need to use different skills and examples for each cover letter, as each job role will require different skills and abilities.
Market yourself in your cover letter
A bit like your Personal Profile, your cover letter is your chance to sell yourself to the people doing the hiring. There are several good ways to sell yourself, and having done your research, they should be easy to include:
- Demonstrate knowledge – of the role, the company, and the sector in which they operate
- Outline your skills, qualifications and goals – any that are relevant to the role and company
- Highlight your social and interpersonal skills – talk about the clubs and/or societies you are a member of, any volunteering you do – anything that shows your ideals and what you enjoy doing in your spare time
How to structure and write a cover letter
These days it’s unusual for cover letters or CVs to be sent as physical copies, but digital correspondence should still be written in formal business language.
There are several ways to format a business letter, but these are the elements you must include:
- Your address and contact details, including a telephone number (mobile or landline) and email address
- The company’s address
- The opening greeting: Dear xyz
Here’s how it might look:
[Date] [Your address line 1] [Address line 2] [Address line 3] [Your phone number and email] [Company name] [Company address line 1] [Company address line 2] Dear [Name or Sir or Madam ],
Cover letter paragraph 1: The introduction
The position you are interested in and why you are applying for it – a brief introductory passage that covers three things:
- Why you’re writing the letter
- What job role you are applying for
- How you found out about the job
“I am writing to apply for the role of [job title] in response to an advert I saw on [name of job site]. Please find my CV attached.”
Cover letter paragraph 2: The by-line
This paragraph should be all about you and detail the skills you possess that are relevant to the role, particularly those that have been identified in the job advert or description. Be careful not to reproduce your CV. Mirror phrases and skills that are mentioned in the job advert or description.
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- Try more general keywords
- Check your spelling
- Replace abbreviations with the entire word
Cover letter paragraph 3: Show your knowledge
This is where you can demonstrate the research that you did before applying. Show that you know what sector they operate in and what they do, and demonstrate why you wish to work there, how you could make a difference, and how you align with the company’s ideals, culture and core values.
In short: show that you’re the perfect candidate!
Cover letter paragraph 4: Conclusion
Your cover letter, the masterpiece that it now is, should end with a clear call to action. You want to secure an interview for this position, so mention that and let them know when you’re available for a callback or contact to arrange it. Don’t be demanding, just be confident and clear. If you plan to follow up with a phone call, then let them know. If you’re not comfortable doing this then end your letter with:
“I look forward to hearing from you.”
Thank them for taking the time to read your letter, and sign off with:
“Yours sincerely [ or faithfully if you don’t know their name ] , [Your Name]”
Use a covering letter as a speculative approach to a company you’d like to work for
Have you noticed a company that you’d really like to work for, but they’re not currently advertising any open positions? In this case, a ‘ cold-contact cover letter ‘ makes a great speculative application letter. Here’s what to include in that cover letter:
- Address the letter formally – Try to get hold of the name of the hiring manager; check their website or call the main number and ask. If not, then address it as “Dear Sir or Madam”. You could alternatively address it to the CEO or Managing Director – once they see it is a speculative application, they will probably pass it to the relevant person within the company.
- Your reason for writing – As there is no vacancy that you are aware of, you should explain why you are writing and what attracted you to the company.
- Mention any contacts – If a friend or acquaintance works at the company and has suggested or agreed that you should apply, then mention them by name and job title.
- Detail your skills and experience – The body of the speculative application should highlight your skills and experiences and provide examples of how you have used them in previous jobs. Then state once more why you’re interested in working for the company; talk about the sector or industry they operate in and show that you have done your research.
- Say what you would like – Which area or department of the company are you interested in? Where would you like to work – sales, marketing, front-of-house, for example?
- Conclusion – Close the cover letter by thanking them for their time and expressing your interest in hearing from them about any job vacancies that might arise.
Remember, each speculative cover letter should be unique.
Send your cover letter
Because you are almost always going to be sending your cover letter online, we recommend that you attach it to your email in a .pdf format. This way, any computer will be able to view the file, and all your formatting will be preserved.
If you need to send your cover letter as the actual body text of your email, your approach will need to be slightly different. First, make sure you format the subject line of your email like so:
Application for [Job Title] – [Your Name]
If you were given a reference number, include that in the subject line as well. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to think about the layout of your letter. The paragraphs can be the same as an original cover letter, but you can remove the addresses, date and signature.
If you’re applying for a job via a job board, you can sometimes afford to scale down your cover letter to its key components.
Check out this example cover letter:
Hi [Name], I am interested in applying for the current vacancy you have for a [job title]. In my current role as [role title] with [company name], I am responsible for [insert relevant experience relating to job advert] but am currently looking to make a step up into a more challenging role with a reputable company who can offer career growth. I am currently on a notice period of [notice period] and can interview immediately. Kind regards, [Name] [Phone number] [Email]
By following these covering letter guidelines and examples you’ll be ahead of many other applicants applying for roles, and one step nearer to securing an interview.
Try to have fun with it – we wish you the best of luck!
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How to write a cover letter.
A cover letter introduces you to an employer and asks them to think about your application.
It’s a short letter, usually 3 to 5 paragraphs long.
When to include a cover letter
You should always include a cover letter when you apply for a job using a CV.
You can write it as an email if you’re applying online or print a copy to go with a paper application.
When writing a cover letter, let the employer know you’re keen by showing that you’ve researched the company. Learn more about what they do through:
- their website
- recent news articles
- talking to people you know who work there
Send it to the right person
It's important to try to address your cover letter to someone by name. Check you have the details of the person you need to send it to.
You'll need their name and preferred title. For example, ‘Dr’, ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Ms’, and their job title. You should also make sure you have the right company name and address, including postcode.
If you do not know their name
If the job advert does not include a name you can check the company website. Try to find details of the head of the department, head of human resources or a recruitment manager.
If you still cannot find a name, you can start your letter with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.
Introduce yourself and explain how you found the advertised job. You can mention the job title, and reference number if there is one.
If you’re asking about any job openings and not applying to a vacancy, tell them what sort of job you’re looking for. Let the employer see how keen you are to work for them.
Show you're right for the job
Highlight the skills and experience you have that match what the employer is looking for.
Convince them that you're enthusiastic about working for them. Let them know you share their work values, culture and style.
Give extra information
If you have gaps in your employment history, you could talk about the skills you gained while you were out of work.
If you’ve mentioned on your CV that you have a disability, you might want to talk more about this in your cover letter. Organisations like Disability UK can give you advice on how to do this. You do not have to mention your disability at this stage if you prefer not to.
You can get more help with specialist advice on finding work if you have a disability.
Ending your cover letter
Thank the employer for considering your application. Let them know that they can get more details from your CV, and tell them you're looking forward to hearing from them.
Let them know how they can best contact you. Make sure your contact details are correct on both your cover letter and CV.
Yours sincerely or yours faithfully
If you know the name of the person you’re writing to, you should end the letter with ‘Yours sincerely’.
If you’ve addressed the letter ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, you should end the letter with ‘Yours faithfully’.
Tips for writing a cover letter
When writing your cover letter, remember to:
- write a new one for every job you apply for and make sure it’s tailored to the company and the specific role
- use the same font and size as you do for your CV, so it looks consistent
- make sure the company name and recruiter’s details are correct
- use the right language and tone: keep it professional and match the keywords used by the employer in their job advert
- show you’ve done your research into the job and the company
- highlight your most relevant skills and experience to stand out from other applicants
- back up any statements you make with facts and use the STAR method
- double check spelling and grammar before you send it
- keep a copy of your cover letter as they may ask you about it in an interview
How to write a CV
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- Resume and Cover Letter
- How to Tailor Your Cover...
How to Tailor Your Cover Letter for Each Job Application
7 min read · Updated on December 16, 2021
Create a customized cover letter that introduces you as the best candidate right off the bat.
Every year, businesses spend billions on brand identity and image. Corporate CEOs want the public to identify their business' brand with little to no effort. This means spending countless hours creating marketing materials to spread the company's vision, mission and reputation online and in print. Similarly, individuals must invest in their own brand identity to be successful in their professional lives.
Creating your best image and personal brand starts with the cover letter. The cover letter is the “door-opener,” “conversation-starter” and the first impression for hiring managers. When career counselors discuss the famous elevator pitch , they are referring to your cover letter. It's not the resume, interview, or job application recruiters scrutinize first; recruiters look to cover letters for a basic understanding and “feel” for potential candidates.
Though most job seekers understand the importance of personal cover letters and spend countless hours writing creative sentences and including their most valuable assets, they rarely consider tailoring their cover letter to fit the actual job. Inserting bland material aimed at all jobs will reduce your chances of landing the interview. On the other hand, crafting a customized, tailored cover letter and connecting the dots shows the recruiter how your experience and skills are best suited for their needs.
Here are a few strategies designed to help tailor a customized cover letter, without overwhelming your job hunting.
Start with relevant skills and abilities
Hiring managers look for candidates who fit their needs. Include skills on your resume that mirror the assets the company is seeking in an employee. Compare your resume to the company's job description . But steer clear of bland descriptions or copy-and-pasting. Focus on your notable contributions and major attributes.
“As a senior marketing manager with more than 15 years' experience creating campaigns and strategies to promote brand identity, I am able to ______. Some of my most recent accomplishments include:
Increased web traffic by 150% by analyzing current online trends, aligning company standards and strategies to match those trends and developing promotional products to draw traffic.
Won $15 million Fortune 500 contract by promoting company's brand and product, analyzing competition and aligning sales goals to match current market trends.
Awarded PRSA's “Top Company Newsletter” by redesigning publication, focusing on the information desired by the audience, utilizing graphics and images, including C-Level biographies and reducing overhead.
Name dropping may be a dangerous pastime if you don't follow the rules carefully. But people do love reading their names in print. One area to include a name is the recipient's address and salutation. If the application or job description identifies a specific person to contact, be sure to address your cover letter and other application materials to that person. Even if the job post doesn't include an actual person, try to avoid using “To whom it may concern,” “Dear Sir or Ma'am” or “Dear Hiring Manager.” These are dry and very impersonal. Call the company and ask for the contact person, do some digging on LinkedIn, or ask them how they prefer to be addressed.
Mr. John Doe
123 Main Street
Anytown, USA 12345
Dear Mr. Doe:
Sometimes companies have several team members working on applications. In those instances, you may not be able to address the letter to a specific person. These scenarios require a more professional technique. Address the letter to “Dear Hiring Manager:” or the equivalent person for the company. Stay away from gender-specific language (i.e. Sir and Ma'am) as this is dangerous and can cause some hurt feelings. The recipient's address should forego specific names and titles in this case. Use the company's name in place of an actual person.
124 Main Street
Dear Hiring Manager:
Tell them you want the job and why
We all tend to focus on our accomplishments and qualities but forget the hiring process isn't about us. Recruiters are looking for people who will benefit the company. In the last paragraph – not the closing paragraph – a customized cover letter should tell the recruiter you want the job and why. Explain this is the company you want to work for and why. Go online and research the company's “About Us” web page. Gather information about the company's mission and vision statements. Learn more about their community engagement. Use this information to connect both the company's and your goals.
“I want to commit long-term to [Company Name] because both our goals align. [Company Name] seeks to promote self-awareness and compassion within the community through its [program name]. Along those same lines, I have…”
Speak their language
Some companies have forgone the “human eyes” approach to reading cover letters. They use advanced software called Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to weed out undesirable cover letters and resumes. In other words, you have to convince the computer before gaining access to the hiring manager. Go back to the job description and carefully look for keywords. These more likely are listed in the requirements section and include hard skills unique to the position. While resisting the urge to copy-paste the exact description into your cover letter, rewrite the description in your own words, aligning it with your resume and using the keywords.
“As a senior-level graphic designer, my current role entails using Adobe CS (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver) to create stunning digital and print images. My colleagues have credited my ability to design appealing, trending websites and social media accounts. Additionally, I have advanced knowledge of video editing using FinalCut.”
Don't forget the introductory paragraph
All cover letters start with an introduction. A well-written, customized cover letter should include the company's name, position and other identifiers included in the job description. Forego any personal greetings (i.e. “I hope this letter finds you well,” “Hope all is well,” etc.). These personal messages are sloppy and unprofessional. Focus your intro paragraph on the topic and outline of the cover letter.
“I am responding to your job advertisement on Monster.com. As a professional project manager, I believe I am a good fit for [Company Name]'s IT Project Manager position. As you will see, my attached resume details more than five years' experience managing technology solutions for competitive companies. My history includes…”
Creating an easy-fill template for cover letters
Customizing your cover letter doesn't mean creating a new cover letter every time you apply for a job. Templates are easy to make and an important time saver. Follow these easy steps to create your template.
Create your overall design. Choose a basic design that is professional and reflects your personality. Don't use colors, off-the-wall fonts or images. Creating a cover letter design just entails designing a header (stationary head) for your cover letter. It should include your name, the job title, and contact information.
Write a specific letter to start. Copy your first cover letter and start with this template. Highlight all tailored information and replace it with brackets “[ ]” for easy identifications. For example, “As a senior-level graphic designer, my current role entails using Adobe CS (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver) to create stunning digital and print images” can be changed to “As a senior-level graphic designer, my current role entails [tailored information].” Leave all bland, generic information and soft skills as is. This is transferable to all future personal cover letters.
Save as a Word template. To prevent overwriting past saved cover letters, save your document as a template. Once saved, every time you open the file, it creates a new cover letter, exactly as you formatted it. To save a Word file as a template click [File > Save As]. Choose Word Template from the drop-down box and name your file. Some versions of Word have different instructions which you can find in their Help Section .
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It's important to get your cover letter right. It's your one opportunity to sell your skills and experience to potential employers. Find out how to write and format a cover letter and take ideas and inspiration from our cover letter templates
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a document sent alongside your CV when applying for jobs. It acts as a personal introduction and helps to sell your application.
Cover letters are necessary as they give you the chance to explain to an employer why you're the best candidate for the job. You do this by highlighting relevant skills and experience; therefore, you should always write your cover letter with the position you're applying for in mind.
Not to be confused with personal statements for your CV , cover letters should complement your CV but not duplicate it. The consensus among recruiters when it comes to the length of these documents is the shorter the better. Typically, three to five short paragraphs, cover letters should not exceed one A4 page.
If sending electronically, put the text in the body of the email rather than as an attachment, to avoid it being detected by spam filters.
Applications should always include a cover letter unless the job advert instructs you differently.
How do I write a good cover letter?
Before writing your cover letter it's important that you do your research. While reading the job description thoroughly is essential, it's not enough on its own. To help you craft a successful cover letter you’ll need to find out more about:
- who will be reading your cover letter
- the organisation and its culture
- the industry it operates in and any relevant news
- company competitors and market position.
- the organisations goals over the next five years.
When writing your cover letter keep it brief, while making sure it emphasises your suitability for the job. Cover letters can be broken down into the following sections:
- First paragraph - The opening statement should set out why you're writing the letter. Begin by stating the position you're applying for, where you saw it advertised and when you are available to start.
- Second paragraph - Highlight relevant experience and demonstrate how your skills match the specific requirements of the job description. Summarise any additional strengths and explain how these could benefit the company.
- Third paragraph - Cover why you're suitable for the job, what attracted you to this type of work, why you're interested in working for the company and what you can offer the organisation. This is a good opportunity to show off your knowledge of the company.
- Last paragraph - Use the closing paragraph to round up your letter. Reiterate your interest in the role and indicate your desire for an interview. Now is the time to mention any unavailable dates.
Once finished read through the document and cut out any unnecessary words and sentences. Don't fill up space by repeating what's already covered in your CV. As a rule, only mention your current salary or salary expectations if the employer has specifically asked you to. If you're asked to include this information, put it between the third and last paragraphs.
Unless the job advert states differently (for example, it may ask you to provide your CV and cover letter as a Word document) save with a .PDF file extension to make sure it can be opened and read on any machine. Windows PCs and Macs don't always work in harmony - Windows use a .docx file extension and Macs .pages but if the recruiter uses the opposite system, they may not be able to open your file. Using a .PDF file extension should solve this.
If you need help with your CV take a look at how to write a CV .
How should I address a cover letter?
Always try and address your cover letter directly to the person who will be reading it. Bear in mind that you're more likely to receive a reply if you send it to the right person.
If you're struggling to find a named contact, you can use a general greeting such as:
- Dear Sir/Madam
- Dear Hiring manager
- Dear Human resources director.
However, general greetings should only be used once you have exhausted methods of finding a named contact.
How do I sign off?
How you sign off your cover letter depends on how you addressed it. If you include a named contact, sign off 'Yours sincerely'. If you use a general greeting, finish with 'Yours faithfully'.
Example cover letters
- Sample cover letter - Used to highlight your skills and experience and to express your suitability and passion for the job, cover letters are used to encourage recruiters to look at your CV. Attention to detail is crucial and spelling, grammar and formatting needs to be spot on. Take a look at our sample cover letter for inspiration.
- Speculative cover letter - These can sometimes be an effective method of creating an opportunity. To ensure that speculative cover letters are successful you'll need to do your research on the company you're applying to. Using our cover letter template, discover what to include in speculative applications.
- Cover letter by a Masters graduate - You probably embarked on a Masters to expand your subject knowledge, gain industry contacts and improve your job prospects but to really make it work you need to know how to sell your postgraduate qualification to employers.
- Cover letter for a jobseeker with no experience - It can be tough applying for a job with no experience, but our example cover letter shows you how to promote yourself to an employer if you haven't got any directly related work experience.
- Explaining a gap in your CV - Knowing how to navigate around gaps in your CV can be tricky but it's a mistake to try and gloss over them. Your cover letter is the perfect place to explain these gaps in your employment history to potential employers. Take a look at our sample cover letter to find out how to go about it.
- Cover letter for changing career - Find out how to explain a change of direction in our example cover letter for career changers. You'll need to briefly cover why you want to change career and relate your past experience and wealth of skills to the industry/job you’re applying to.
- Cover letter by an international graduate - If you'd like to expand your horizons by working abroad, take a look at our cover letter of an international student applying for a job in the UK. You’ll need to do your research if you apply for a job in another country, as application rules may differ.
- Disclosing a disability - Just like your gender, marital status and dependants your disability doesn't affect your ability to do a job and you're not legally required to disclose it on your CV or in your cover letter. However, if you would like to disclose a disability to outline any adjustments you may need, this sample cover letter will show you how.
- Internship cover letter - To set yourself above the competition you need to successfully sell your relevant skills and experience while conveying your passion for the role. As well as explaining to employers what the opportunity could do for you, you'll need to communicate what you could do for the company. Discover how to craft the perfect application for a formal internship with our internship cover letter template.
- Apprenticeship cover letter - Apprenticeships are an increasingly popular route into work, as well as a great alternative to university. Find out how to apply for these roles with our apprenticeship cover letter example.
For inspiration and guidance on crafting a CV see example CVs .
When should I follow up my application?
It's always a good idea to follow up on a job application if you don't hear back. If two weeks have passed and you've had no response, send an email to the hiring manager to check that your application has been received. Use this opportunity to reiterate your interest in the role and why you think you'd be an asset to the company.
Keep this email brief. It shouldn't act as a second cover letter or attempt to replace or repeat the original.
What are some top tips for writing a cover letter?
With employers often receiving lots of applications for each vacancy, you need to ensure that your cover letter makes a lasting impression for the right reasons. These tips will increase your chances of success:
- Tailor to the organisation - You should rewrite your cover letter every time you apply for a position in order to target the company. Sending out a generic letter for all applications rarely yields positive results and recruiters can spot your lack of time and effort from a mile away.
- Format - Presentation is important so you'll need to format your cover letter properly. Make sure the document is as uncluttered as possible, use the same font and size as you use in your CV and if you're sending it through the post or handing it in use good quality plain white paper to print it on.
- Use keywords that appear in the job advert - This lets the employer know that you’ve read and understood the job description. It also demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to tailor your application to the job.
- Identify your USPs - They're your unique selling points. Be positive about what you have to offer and clearly outline how your skills and experience meet those requested in the job description. Demonstrate why you're the perfect candidate.
- Include examples - Back up the claims in your cover letter with real evidence or examples that show how and when you've used your skills and experience.
- Save a copy - If you’re invited to interview you might need to refer back to it.
If you're a student or recent graduate, you can make an appointment with your university's careers and employability service to access further help when writing your cover letter. You'll be able to talk with specially-trained advisers, get advice on what to include and have a professional eye look over your application before sending.
To make sure you don’t trip up read about the 5 things to avoid when writing a cover letter .
Find out more
- Learn more about applying for jobs .
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