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.
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