How to write a cover letter

Advice on how to write a cover letter to go with your CV.

What to include in a cover letter

A cover letter is written in direct response to the job you are applying for. It gives you the space and freedom to tell the employer all the things that won’t fit in to your Curriculum Vitaes (CVs) rigid structure.

A cover letter should be one page long and should say:

  • who you are and what job you're applying for
  • what relevant skills, experience and education you have
  • why you want to work in this sector
  • why you are applying to this organisation

The most important thing is that your letter is unique to you and to your prospective employer. You should tailor each cover letter to the vacancy you are applying for.

How to structure your letter

Use the following structure and read our list of suggested words to include in your cover letter.

Paragraph one: Introduction

Introduce yourself and clearly state which position you are applying for, and reference your CV.

Paragraph 2: Why you want the job

Explain why you want this job. Look carefully at the job description and pick out what makes this job appealing to you.

Paragraph 3: Why the employer should be interested in you

Pick out three or four of the qualities the employer is asking for and show how these apply to you. Make sure you back up what you're saying with examples as well as mentioning relevant experience or study.

Final paragraph: Conclusion

Be positive. Thank the employer for considering your application and say that you look forward to hearing from them. Ensure that your contact information is included on your cover letter and on your CV.

Email cover letters

If you are sending your CV and cover letter by email, attach your CV but include the letter in the main body of the email. Make sure you include the vacancy title in the subject box so that the employer immediately knows what your email is about and does not dismiss it as spam.

If you need more cover letter advice

Get more advice about how to write a cover letter from the National Careers Service.