[Job Applications] [My CV] [Covering Letters] [[Interview Techniques] [Oral Presentations] [Psychometric Tests]

Covering Letters ::

Writing a letter is not always as straightforward as might be supposed. It is worth taking time to create the best possible impression. Size, quality of paper, layout and neatness all contribute to this effect. By the time the letter has been read, the employer will have been influenced by the way it has been written, as well as by its content.

Introducing a CV

Every CV sent by post needs to have a covering letter to introduce it. The letter
  • must encourage the employer to take your CV seriously
  • sets the reader's expectations of what will be in the CV
  • persuades the employer that you are a suitable candidate for the job
  • indicates evidence for the claims you make about yourself.

Introducing an application form

While an application form handed in at the Careers Service for a visiting ('milkround') interviewer can stand alone, one sent by post should be accompanied by a letter. A letter is especially useful if the form does not give you an opportunity to mention essential facts about your suitability for the job or to make your case effectively. It can sometimes ensure that your application is taken more seriously than it would otherwise be. Above all it gives you the opportunity to emphasise your suitability for the job.

Use of English

In writing a letter, you should try to:
  • capture the reader's attention
  • express what you need to say as concisely as you can
  • convey a positive attitude of reasonable confidence
  • avoid grammatical and spelling errors.

Structure and content

There are no hard and fast rules for constructing a letter, but the following provides a guide. You may find it useful to experiment with formats to see which works best for you.

Beginnings and endings

Address by name if you can, such as:
    Dear Ms Bloggs
and conclude with
    Yours sincerely
If you have no name, address as
    Dear Sir
and conclude with
    Yours faithfully

The first paragraph(s)

  • Identify who you are, what job you are applying for, and how you heard about it
  • Perhaps provide a brief summary of your main 'selling points'.
Useful phrases: in response to your advertisement . . . following our telephone conversation . . . would like to be considered for . . . here is my CV for your consideration . . . writing to enquire whether . . .

The middle paragraph(s)

These can address two main themes, perhaps in separate paragraphs, in whatever order suits you best:
  • Give details of why you want to join the organisation and do that particular job - sound keen and enthusiastic - show that you've found out about the employer and the job
  • Say why they should be interested in you - give your main selling points
  • Deal with any negative aspects of your application - if you can justify any weak points in your application form with a genuine explanation, this may be included, such as poor A-levels owing to illness.
Possible selling points: relevant work experience; related interests and skills, especially if these are not fully covered elsewhere; aspects of your course that are particularly relevant

Useful phrases: as you can see from my CV . . . attracted to working for you because . . . I can offer . . . especially interested in . . . my main skills are . . . most important qualifications and experience are . . .

The last paragraph(s)

  • Restate your interest and summarise your suitability
  • Perhaps ask for an interview, mentioning dates when you are available or unavailable
  • End the letter - on a polite and optimistic note
Useful phrases: happy to supply further information . . . available for interview at any time . . . look forward to hearing from you . . .


The first impression of your letter should be clear and well presented. It should be laid out in such a way that it is visually attractive, neither squashed nor with a blank space at the end. A4 white paper of good quality is always acceptable rather than coloured paper, and it should be plain and not lined.

Unless a hand-written letter is requested, a word processed letter looks business like and professional, and you can get more information on to a page. Employers are used to both. If it is hand-written make sure that it is legible.

Further Information

  • How to Write a CV, University of London Careers Service
  • How to Complete an Application Form, University of London Careers Service
Both of these contain more hints on letter writing.

Example of a letter

The following may be used as a guide to preparing your own letter.
16 Wilson Street
London EC2 0PY
1st October 1996
Miss J. Anderson
Recruitment Manager
Human Resources Department
Megabright Ltd
44 Strand Green
London SW1 4PQ

Dear Miss Anderson

Ref: Assistant Press Officer

I am writing in response to your advertisement of 30th September for the above position. I enclose my Curriculum Vitae for your consideration.

As you will see I have had considerable experience of press officer work during my years at University. I was responsible for all press contacts for our student union and for the production of press releases for a number of events.

My work experience during vacations has developed a number of the skills mentioned in your advertisement, particularly team working and meeting deadlines, and I think that I could bring ideas and enthusiasm to the job.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Jack Daniels


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