How to write a cover letter or email

Your cover letter is the first thing a recruiter will see, so it is essential that you introduce your CV in the best way possible.

Your cover note has to make a strong impact, enough to make them want to know more about you.




Where we start

Although there's no such thing as the perfect letter, following a basic formula will help you on your way and make your cover note a worthy build-up to your CV.

Each application should be tailored to suit the job you’re applying for. It’s up to you to make sure you demonstrate you’re the right fit for the right job.

Search through your own career history for specific examples of how you can demonstrate you have what the employer is looking for.

For example the advertisement might say: "This position requires an outgoing person with demonstrated capacity to work in a team". The keywords here are "outgoing", "demonstrated" and "team". Show you meet these essential criteria to increase your chances of an interview.

Your cover letter should be in line with your CV by highlighting the most relevant aspects in relation to the position.

Don’t rush writing the cover letter. If you don’t impress with the cover letter you are leaving yourself open to being passed over for the job as another candidate had a well written cover letter.

How to write a cover letter

1. First paragraph

Explain why you are writing make sure it entices them to read on. If you're replying to an advert, say where and when you saw the advert and if there is a reference number, quote it.

Ensure you have researched the company, job and current industry trends before writing the cover letter.

2. Second paragraph

Briefly explain your job and, if applicable, qualifications (professional and/or academic). Don't give too much away or they may not want to go on and read your CV.

If you are replying to an advert, make sure the skills you specified are reflected in your CV.

Download our guide to Securing an interview

  •  I confirm that I have read and accept the Terms and Conditions. By filling out this form, I agree I have read and understand the Privacy Policy.

3. Third paragraph

Say why they should employ you and why you would be a good employee. Tell the company a little about themselves (e.g. "As the largest publishing company in the North West"), to demonstrate you know something about them.

4. Fourth paragraph

Lay down an action plan; say you would like the opportunity to meet them for an interview and you'll await their response, or that you will call in a few days to see if this is appropriate.

You don't have to leave the ball in their court, although be wary of seeming to 'pester' - and if you do say you are going to call, then make sure you do.

Other points to keep in mind

Make sure your letter, email or note is addressed to the right person at the right address, and that you spell everything correctly.

Never use ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. Review the contact on LinkedIn for more information.

Put all your contact details on the cover email, including address, phone numbers, email address. Make it as easy as possible for your prospective employer to contact you, if they can't get hold of you, you won't get your interview.

  • If you are posting your CV write or print your cover letter on good quality paper that matches the paper of your CV. Coloured paper should be avoided – for best results, stick to good quality, white or cream paper.
  • Use bullet points where possible - it will be easier and quicker for the reader to scan. You should still include a proper introduction and ending though - bullets should be framed by proper paragraphs.
  • Make your letter bespoke, customised to the job. Pick out specific traits or skills mentioned in the job advert and demonstrate why you think you are suitable.
  • Always always check for spelling mistakes, typos, strange grammar and bad punctuation, one mistake could mean your application is rejected before you’ve even got started.
  • Ensure that your note is short, succinct and to the point; there is no reason to duplicate the details shown in your CV.
  • Don’t use long words simply to impress – if you are using words you wouldn't normally use, then don't bother, if you can use a simpler word, then do it. Similarly, don't get someone else to write the note for you.


Job Search

Looking for a new role? Search here for your ideal job or get in touch with one of our expert consultants.


Find out more

Salary guide
Benchmark salaries by using our comprehensive digital salary guide.

Career advice
From CV tips to interview advice, our career advice will assist in your job search.

Search for jobs
Find your next career move with our jobs search engine.

Recruiting now?
Search through hundreds of candidates to find your next employee or employees.

View our blogs
Take a look at our blog section for further insight and advice.