How to write a successful and professional covering letter

Writing A Good and Powerful Cover Letter - Do's and Don'ts

What is a cover letter for ?

A cover letter (or covering letter or letter of motivation) is a letter of introduction attached to, or accompanying another document such as a resume (or curriculum vitae).

Writing this cover letter often seems like a particularly daunting task. However, with our tips and samples, you'll soon be an expert at writing cover letters.

In summary :

Every cover letter you write should be customized for the job you are applying for, clear and concise, grammatically correct, and error-free (see all our free cover letter samples).

Tips and Advice for Creating a Great Cover Letter

For an advertised position

A cover letter is designed to enhance your CV, not repeat it. This letter will highlight your skills and qualities.

A cover letter should also be written in line with the specifications the employer has stated in their desirable and essential criteria.

The employer will also have listed the minimum requirements in order to fill the post and may have suggested the qualities they wish potential candidates to have; for example - personable, flexibility (working as part of a team and/or independently)

To enquire about possible positions - for example if you are a recent graduate

To thank an employer for an interview

Your CV will not need to be sent again. This letter will thank the employer and emphasise the interest you have in the position. You will include points you may have missed out and/or elaborate on the points discussed during the interview.

Before you write your cover letter

Check you understand all of the criteria stated by the employer before you write your letter.

You should meet the essential criteria before you decide to apply. If the job states RETAIL EXPERIENCE ESSENTIAL you will need to have experience within a retail environment.

Read the employers specification and then read your CV. Think about the skills each post or experience required. If you worked in a temporary position, you may have had to juggle many different tasks. If you were a manager, you would need to be both personable and efficient at managing teams of people.

You could record it like this :

Employer seeks :

Flexible responsible

Candidate who manages their time efficiently

My experience :

6 months temporary work as an office administrator within a busy Human Resources office - word processing, making folders for interviews, some days working with the recruitment manager - assisting with interviews.

Some days assisting the Absence and Employer relations officer - following up a long term absences.

Skill :

Ability to manage different tasks and adapt to the roles of each person within the Human Resources department.

Short post, fast learner - given responsibility and trust - personal data is confidential.

Focusing on more than one task requires time management

After you have a list of skills that match the employer's requirements, you can begin to write your letter. Pay attention to grammar and spelling !

Writing the letter

The template

The first paragraph states where the advertisement was found and any reference numbers that go with it.

It states the position advertised.

The second paragraph states that all relevant documents are included.

The third paragraph briefly highlights training, work related skills and current employment- in this paragraph briefly state specific relevant information - IE. Similar employment and training for the position advertised.

The fourth paragraph expands on the information and motivation for the application and confirms that you have knowledge of the company.

The final paragraph closes with a short snappy sentence with your personal qualities and it is a good idea to close with a line such as, do not hesitate to contact etc. If you are writing the thank you letter you would end with a line such as, I look forward to hearing from you.

Free samples cover letters

The cover letter is an essential part of the application process, but to present oneself on a page is not easy. So of course you want the letter that stands out from all of the others!

Read our free covering letter template, and adjust it to fit your career profile.

Tips : Consult several samples, even if at first you don't think they directly relate! They may just leave you inspired to create a unique cover letter! All our free sample letters should be a source of inspiration for you!