Covering letters

When you send off a CV or application form you need to include a covering letter. It is your personal statement and you can use it to highlight which particular skills you possess that would prove invaluable to your new employer.

Covering letters should be organised into logical sections:

  • First part to include why you are writing/where you saw the advertisement.
  • Second part to highlight your most relevant skills and achievements and refer to your CV or application form.
  • Third part to close the letter - often asking for what you want i.e an interview.
  • The covering letter checklist and sample letters provide advice and examples.

Key points

  • Keep it short. Never make it longer than one side of A4, with a number of brief paragraphs.
  • Give the letter a heading such as the job you are applying for. This allows the reader to see immediately what you are writing to them about.
  • Send the covering letter to a named person (ie don't use Sir or Madam). If you do not have a name then contact the organisation. Most switchboards or reception desks will give you the information.
  • Hand write your letter unless your handwriting is illegible. This helps to dispel the feeling that many employers have that they are merely one of the hundreds of employers to whom you are applying.
  • Use the letter to highlight any particular relevant aspect of your background to the position you are seeking.
  • Organise the letter into logical parts:
    1. include why you are writing and where you saw the advertisement.
    2. highlight your most relevant skills and achievements and refer to your CV.
    3. close the letter by asking for what you want i.e. an interview.

Access MyCareerExplorer's advice and videos on writing an effective covering letter


Students at a careers fair