Writing a covering letter

While your CV should show off your skills and qualifications, your covering letter should explain why you’re applying for this particular job and what makes you the right person for it.

A good covering letter convinces an employer to read your CV, and it is usually the first contact they have with you, so it’s important to get it right!

When you’re writing your covering letter, think about:

  • Skills, experience or qualifications that make you right for the job – you can use your covering letter to highlight particularly relevant areas of your CV
  • Why you want to work for this company in particular – do some research online to find out more so that you can be specific in your covering letter
  • Aspects of the job that especially interest you – show that you understand what the job involves

Your covering letter should be:

· Concise and to the point. Aim for around three paragraphs outlining briefly why you want the job, why you’d be good at it and what you like about the company, drawing attention to any key areas in your CV

· Well written in terms of grammar and spelling – use spell check and get someone else to proof read it before you send it off

· Enthusiastic and personalised – make sure the employer knows you’re interested in this job, rather than giving the impression you’re simply desperate for a job, any job!

What not to do:

  • Don’t use the same covering letter for each job you apply for – tailor the letter to each different job
  • Don’t write a very long and detailed letter. It needs to be short and to the point, otherwise potential employers might lose interest
  • Avoid mentioning salary at this stage. If you don’t already know what the pay is, it’s better to ask at interview stage

Who can help?

Speak to your teacher, college tutor or school’s careers adviser for more guidance and help on looking for work and applying for jobs.

Find out more on the Directgov website.

Find out more about volunteering on this site.

You can register your CV for employers to view, search for jobs and find sample covering letters at job sites online including Prospects, Total Jobs and Monster.