How to write the ultimate covering letter

Although the popularity of covering letters has waned in recent years, some employers still insist that you provide one or a covering email when submitting your job application.

By ignoring their request and just applying without one, you run the risk of being perceived as someone who can’t follow simple instructions, are unable to create a basic letter or worse still can’t be bothered.

Take a look at our simple guidelines on how to create the ultimate covering letter to ensure that you give the employer exactly what they want the next time you apply for a new position.

Starting your covering letter

Think about the format of your covering letter and what key points you want to make and key information you want to include. Check the job description and match up any experience that you have and be sure to make sure this is included.

Set out your covering letter as you would normally and be sure to include all of your details such as full name, address, telephone number and email. Date of birth is not required to apply for any role by law so it’s best not to include it.

If you’re given a name on the job advert, then make sure you use it instead of relying on a standard ‘to whom it may concern’ whenever possible. Also make sure you include the vacancy title in a subject heading as the company might be recruiting for more than one position.

The first paragraph

Start your letter by explaining why you find the role of interest. Express your interest in the position and briefly explain why you would be a good fit for the vacancy. For example:

I’d like to express my interest in the above vacancy as I have over 3 years’ experience in a similar role and wish to develop my career further in this area.

It’s always a good idea to talk about your future career goals and how you see this position aiding you in achieving them.

Pull out key pieces of information

Use the second paragraph in your covering letter, to mention the key skills, experience or qualification you have that are mentioned in the job description. This will help to make your letter stand out.

Use this section to highlight any particular achievements you’ve had in previous roles and how elements of your current role match what the employer is looking for. Two to three paragraphs should be plenty but make sure you don’t overdo it and end up writing two pages.

The final paragraph

This section is often the easiest to do, but you’d be surprised how many people miss it out or include the wrong information altogether.

Do not give reasons why you want to leave your current position as you’ll have the opportunity to discuss this if you are invited to the interview stage. Instead, use the final section to wrap up the letter politely. For example:

I have attached my CV for your consideration and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the role and my skills and experience with you in more detail. Please feel free to contact me on the details above if you have any questions.

Finally, sign off the covering letter or email as you normally would and wait to hear back from the employer.