The first thing a potential employer sees in your job application is the cover letter. This doesn't just support your CV – it's an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd and persuade the recruiter to put you through to the next round.
Be wary of spending hours on perfecting your CV at the expense of your cover letter. If you need some inspiration on what to include and what format to use, here are our helpful guides – just remember not to copy them as exact templates.
1. Standard, conservative style
This is ideal for sectors such as business, law, accountancy and retail. For more creative sectors, a letter like this might be less appealing, and could work against you.
Dear Mr Black,
Please find enclosed my CV in application for the post advertised in the Guardian on 30 November.
The nature of my degree course has prepared me for this position. It involved a great deal of independent research, requiring initiative, self-motivation and a wide range of skills. For one course, [insert course], an understanding of the [insert sector] industry was essential. I found this subject very stimulating.
I am a fast and accurate writer, with a keen eye for detail and I should be very grateful for the opportunity to progress to market reporting. I am able to take on the responsibility of this position immediately, and have the enthusiasm and determination to ensure that I make a success of it.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
2. Standard speculative letter
This may vary according to the nature of the organisation and the industry you're applying to.
Dear Mr Brown,
I am writing to enquire if you have any vacancies in your company. I enclose my CV for your information.
As you can see, I have had extensive vacation work experience in office environments, the retail sector and service industries, giving me varied skills and the ability to work with many different types of people. I believe I could fit easily into your team.
I am a conscientious person who works hard and pays attention to detail. I'm flexible, quick to pick up new skills and eager to learn from others. I also have lots of ideas and enthusiasm. I'm keen to work for a company with a great reputation and high profile like [insert company name].
I have excellent references and would be delighted to discuss any possible vacancy with you at your convenience. In case you do not have any suitable openings at the moment, I would be grateful if you would keep my CV on file for any future possibilities.
3. Letter for creative jobs
We've used the example of a copywriter but you can adapt it for your profession. The aim of a creative letter is to be original and show you have imagination, but understand what the job entails. Balance is essential: don't be too wacky, or it will turn off the reader.
Dear Ms Green,
· Confused by commas?
· Puzzled by parenthesis?
· Stumped by spelling?
· Perturbed by punctuation?
· Annoyed at the apostrophe? (And alliteration?)
Well, you're not alone. It seems that fewer and fewer people can write. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who can read. So they'll spot a gaffe from a mile off. And that means it's a false economy, unless you're 100% sure of yourself, to write your own materials. (Or to let clients do it for themselves.)
To have materials properly copywritten is, when one considers the whole process of publishing materials and the impact that the client wishes to make, a minor expense. Sloppiness loses clients, loses customers.
There is an answer. Me. Firm quotes are free. You can see some of what I do on my multilingual website at [insert web address]. If you'd like, I can get some samples out to you within 24 hours. And, if you use me, you'll have some sort of guarantee that you can sleep soundly as those tens of thousands of copies are rolling off the presses.
Luck shouldn't come into it!
With kindest regards
Other helpful resources
•How to write a perfect CV and cover letter
•Applying for jobs without experience? How to build and sell your skills
•Five steps to the perfect graduate CV
•School-leavers and graduates: how to write your first CV
•How to write a personal statement for your CV
•CV templates to fit every stage of your career
Looking for a job? Browse Guardian Jobs or sign up to Guardian Careers for the latest job vacancies and career advice
Curriculum Vitae Cover Letters
When you apply for a job with a curriculum vitae, it's important to include a cover letter, also known as a covering letter, with your CV. This letter allows you to make a favorable first impression, using narrative in your own tone of voice to catch the reader’s attention and encourage them to give a serious review to your attached resume.
Curriculum Vitae Cover Letters
A cover letter should be included with every curriculum vitae you send, and should also be tailored to respond to the unique and specific requirements requested by each organization you are approaching; don’t try to use the same cover letter for every job you apply for.
This letter needs to provide detailed information on why are you are qualified for the job. It should also outline the reasons for your interest in the company or organization to which you are applying.
Use your cover letter to identify the most relevant skills or experiences specific to the job, rather than restating the information in your CV. If you're writing a cover letter for a position at a college or university, here's how to write an academic cover letter.
What to Include in Your Curriculum Vitae Cover Letter
Kevin Fitzgerald is the North American Marketing Communications Manager for Michael Page International, one of the world's leading professional recruitment consultancies. He provides the following suggestions about what information to incorporate into your curriculum vitae cover letter.
- The content of your cover letter should be brief and structured; avoid lengthy repetition of information covered in your CV. Unlike a CV, it is acceptable to write a cover letter in the first person.
- Your letter should address the relevant contact, whose name often appears in the job advertisement. Avoid “Sir” or “Madam” if possible.
- If you are replying to a job ad, say so. Mention the job title, any reference number, and where and when you saw it.
- In some cases an advert will indicate that a more substantial letter is required. Always follow specific instructions and include any information if it is particularly requested (for example, your current salary).
- Briefly outline your current situation and why you are seeking change. Include mention of your current or last job, qualifications, and professional and academic training, tailoring your information to make it as relevant as possible to the organization or job applied for.
- Tell the potential employer a little about themselves to demonstrate you have properly read the position description and that you have done some research into the organization. Also, state why you are interested in them as an employer.
- You need to succinctly emphasize why an employer may want to meet and employ you. Highlight your transferable skills, achievements and versatility: what you can contribute and what makes you stand out from your competition. You can also mention personality traits relevant to the role applied for, taking care not to appear too subjective.
- Ensure that your CV covering letter flows freely, however, and does not slavishly match every point on the job description. The reader should be left with an overall impression that you are a potentially valuable addition to the workforce.
- Negative information of any sort should be avoided in your cover letter as well as on your CV.
- Close your letter with a polite expression of interest in further dialogue with the recruiter. Do mention that you would like the opportunity to discuss your suitability further in a personal interview and that you await a response in due course.
- Ensure your letter is neatly and clearly presented with no grammatical or spelling errors.
- Email covering letters should be written in a common font (such as Times New Roman, Verdana, or Courier New) with standard formatting and should emulate a handwritten letter in terms of style.
Cover Letter Samples
Depending on the employer's submission requirements, curriculum vitae cover letters can either be submitted online with your CV, uploaded online, or mailed. Be sure to follow the application instructions and follow the directions on how to apply.
Related Articles: Cover Letters Samples for Curriculum Vitae | Types of Cover Letters (with samples of each) | Email Cover Letter Examples