How to write a cover letter

What is a cover letter?


A cover letter is a letter you write to a prospective employer when you apply for a job. It is accompanied by your CV. Its purpose is to introduce yourself, explain what skills you have and to show a prospective employer why you are suitable for the job for which you are applying.


How does a cover letter differ from a CV?

A CV lists your academic qualifications and work experience. Although, from time to time you need to update your CV, if you are applying for more than one job at the same time, your CV will be the same for every application. However, your cover letter will be different for every job for which you apply. Therefore, you should not write a standard cover letter for every job. The letter needs to be specific to the job for which you are applying.


How long should a cover letter be?

A cover letter should be short and occupy about half an A4 page.


Why do I have do conduct some research before writing my cover letter?

You need to know as much as you can about the company for which you want to work. This will impress your prospective employer who will see that you already know something about how the company works. However, there is no need to give a history of the company.


 What should a cover letter contain?

Firstly, you need to give your name and contact details. There is no need to give your full address, but just an email address and/or telephone number to accompany your name.

It is helpful if you know the name of the hiring manager so you can use that name in the letter such as ‘Dear Mr Smith’. In this case, the conventional ending to the letter is ‘Yours sincerely’. If you do not know the name of the hiring manager, then you should begin the letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and end it with ‘Yours faithfully’.


What should I say about myself?

You should bear in mind that there are probably several applicants for the job, so the hiring manager will need to go through every cover letter and CV. Therefore, you need to make your cover letter stand out from those of the other applicants. It is important that you show why you think you will be the best person for the job. You should name the job title in your cover letter. This is the case of matching your skills and personality with the job itself. Be positive and stress why you really want this job. However, do not give the impression that this is all about you. Ensure that you say why you would like to work for the company and why you think you will be the right person for that company.



Include details of how and when you can be contacted such as whether you can be contacted more easily by email or by phone.


Error-free letter

You will not impress the hiring manager if your letter contains grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. Such errors can lead to lack of clarity and meaning. Therefore, read through your letter carefully to check for these. It would be wise to ask a proofreader to check your letter. One reason for this is that when you write any text, you ‘see’ what is in your mind, not necessarily what is on the page. This is the cause of many errors. However, a second pair of eyes will notice errors that you may have missed.

The Ultimate Proofreader is a UK-based provider of proofreading and editing services.