Covering letters

There are two main types of covering letter:

  1. A letter you send with your CV to apply for a specific job that you have seen advertised or have found out about in some other way
  2. A letter you send with your CV as a speculative application, to find out whether an employer has any work to match your skills and interests

As always, first impressions count. So here are some basics:

  • Type your letter in a word-processing program. Use a letter template if you are not sure how to do a neat layout yourself. (See the internet links below for example templates.)
  • Include your full name, address, telephone numbers, email address, and the date.
  • Also include the name of the person you are writing to (if you know it) and the company name and address.
  • If you do not know whether the person is "Mr", "Mrs", or "Ms", just use the person's full name: for example, "Dear Ashley Khan".
  • Check your spelling and grammar and ask someone else to double-check.
  • Make sure your letter and CV are printed neatly, on good-quality paper.

Note: If you send your CV by email, you still need to write a covering note. Include your contact details, a subject line, and what you are sending and why.

Tip

Always include a few sentences about the skills and experience you have and how these might be useful to the company.

A covering letter/email for a specific job should include the following:

  • The job title, any job reference number, and where you heard about the job
  • A few sentences to say why you are applying for the job and how your skills and experience match what the employer is looking for
  • See here for an example covering letter for a specific job

A speculative letter/email should include the following:

  • The reason you are writing
  • A few sentences about the skills and experience you have and how these might be useful to the company
  • See here for an example speculative covering email.

Useful websites

Monster – Cover letter advice
Under "CVs & Applications" you will find covering letter advice and samples.
National Careers Service – CVs and covering letters
Here you will find some general information and guidelines.
Prospects – Speculative applications
This site is mainly aimed at graduates, but gives useful general information – such as this page on speculative applications.

Last updated 13 November, 2014