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How To Write a Cover Letter for a CV (With Examples)
Tips for Writing a Cover Letter for a CV
Proofread before sending, cover letter template, cover letter sample, sending an email cover letter, more cover letter examples.
When you apply for a job with a curriculum vitae (CV), it's important to include a cover letter, also known as a covering letter. This letter allows you to make a favorable first impression, using narrative in your own tone of voice to catch the reader’s attention and encourage them to seriously review your attached CV.
Like a resume, a CV summarizes your skills and experience. The difference between a CV and a resume is length, the focus on credentials, and what the documents are used for. Typically, a CV is required to apply for roles in academia, scientific research, and medical fields.
While your CV provides a detailed—and often lengthy—look at your experience and credentials, the cover letter is an opportunity to call out your most important qualifications and make a compelling case for your candidacy for the role at hand. Here's what you need to know to write a successful curriculum vitae cover letter.
Tailor the Letter to Fit the Organization
The CV cover letter should be tailored to respond to the unique and specific requirements requested by each organization you are approaching.
Do not use the same cover letter for every job you apply to, even though it may seem like a timesaver.
Each letter needs to provide detailed information about why are you are qualified for the specific job in question, and it should outline the reasons for your interest in the company or organization. Being specific is advantageous. Even if you're applying for two similar roles in two different hospitals, the two hospitals may serve different populations or require slightly different responsibilities for people in the role. Your letters to each hospital should reflect that.
Use your cover letter to identify the skills or experiences most specific to the job, rather than copying directly the information in your CV.
What to Include
As a candidate, it's tempting to feel like the cover letter is unnecessary, since it is likely that all the pertinent information is included in your CV. Still, as you can see, the cover letter is a helpful tool in your application. Here's what to keep in mind as you write a cover letter.
The content of your cover letter should be brief and structured. Aim for 3-5 paragraphs in your letter. Start with a salutation. Your letter should address the relevant contact, whose name often appears in the job advertisement. Avoid “Sir” or “Madam” if possible.
If the letter recipient's name isn't provided, try these tips to determine the correct contact person .
Start With an Introduction
Typically, the first paragraph will be an introduction—if you are applying to a job ad, mention it here. Mention the job title, any reference number, and where and when you saw it. The first paragraph is also where you should mention if someone referred you to the position.
The Body of the Cover Letter
The body of the letter—the second and third paragraphs—should highlight your relevant skills and experience. Highlight your transferable skills , achievements, and versatility. Explain what you can contribute and what makes you stand out from your competition. Include mention of your current or last job, qualifications, and professional and academic training, tailoring your information to make it as relevant as possible to the organization or job applied for.
In the body of the cover letter, you can mention personality traits relevant to the role at hand. You can also use this space to call out why you're interested in this specific role, at this specific company. Potential employers and hiring managers will appreciate it if you can show you've read the job ad and researched the company.
Avoid lengthy repetition of information covered in your CV. Unlike a CV, it is acceptable to write a cover letter in the first person.
Conclude the letter by succinctly summarizing why an employer may want to meet and employ you. Include a polite expression of interest in further dialogue with the recruiter. Do mention that you would like the opportunity to discuss your suitability further in a personal interview and that you await a response in due course.
In some cases, an advertisement will indicate that a more substantial letter is required.
Always follow specific instructions and include any information if it is specifically requested. For instance, some employers may ask you to include your current salary or your desired salary range.
Make Sure the Letter Reads Well
Ensure that your CV cover letter flows freely. You do not need to precisely match every point on the job description. The reader should be left with an overall impression that you are a potentially valuable addition to the workforce.
The letter should be readable and engaging.
Negative information of any sort should be avoided in your cover letter, as well as on your CV.
You'll want to be sure your letter is free from grammar or spelling errors. It should also be clearly presented—that means using standard formatting, and common readable fonts (such as Times New Roman or Verdana) in an appropriate size.
This is a cover letter example. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Depending on the employer's submission requirements, cover letters can be submitted online with your CV, uploaded online, or mailed. Be sure to follow the application instructions and follow the directions on how to apply. Consider this template for how to structure your letter:
Belinda Applicant 123 Main Street Anytown, CA 12345 555-555-5555 email@example.com
October 25, 2021
Clark Lee, PhD Biology Department Chair Northwestern University 123 Business Rd. Business City, NY 54321
Dear Dr, Lee:
I am writing to apply for the position of assistant professor in the Biology department, as described in the Northern University website. The opportunity to teach biology appeals to me, and I believe I can be an asset to the department due to my experience as a field biologist, as well as my work as an adjunct professor at Southern State University. In accordance with your job description, I have the following skills:
• Experience lecturing to large audiences
• Experience with learning management systems and course design
• Ability to assist with labs for other professors
• Experience with grant writing and research
I have enclosed my curriculum vitae so you may examine my work and research experience, the papers I’ve published, and my educational background.
I can be reached anytime by email at Belinda.firstname.lastname@example.org or my cell phone, 555-555-5555. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this position.
Signature (hard copy letter)
When you are sending your cover letter by email, list your contact information in your signature rather than at the top of the letter. List your name and the job title in the subject line of the message.
Here are more examples of cover letters that you can use as a starting point for your own correspondence.
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How to write a cover letter for your CV
If you want to land the best jobs, you need to accompany your CV with a strong cover letter.
In this guide, I will show you how to write a cover letter that will get you noticed by employers and ensure you land plenty of interviews.
Starting with a basic overview…
To write an effective cover letter you must:
- Apply a professional format and layout
- Address the recipient by name
- Explain why you are suitable for the job you are applying for
- Explain why you are applying for the job
- Encourage the recruiter to open your CV
What is a cover letter?
Before you delve into this guide, it’s important to understand what a cover letter is, and what it’s purpose is.
Having a good understanding of these 2 factors will help you to create a really effective cover letter.
A cover letter is simply an introductory note which you send to recruiters and employers, when sending your CV
Here’s an example of a typical cover letter
What’s the purpose of a cover letter?
The purpose of your cover letter is to do the following 3 things;
- Introduce yourself
- Build rapport with the recruiter or employer
- Encourage them to open your CV
Cover letter format
Before you start to write your cover letter, you need to understand the basics of formatting one, and the structure to follow.
Using the correct format will ensure that your cover letter is easy for busy recruiters to read, and that you can highlight the important information that they want to see.
Use the following tips to format and layout your CV for best results.
Write your cover letter in the body of your message or email
The number one cover letter formatting rule to remember is, write your cover letter in the body of your email (or messaging box if you are sending via a job website ).
Never attach your cover letter as a separate document.
You want your cover letter to be instantly visible to recruiters and employers, form the moment they open your application.
If you attach it separately, you simply slowing down the process, and run the risk of having your application ignored (especially if it takes a long time for the document to open).
So, always write your cover letter in the body of your application message if you want to make an instant connection with the recipient.
Quick tip: If you are writing your cover letter in an email, use an eye-catching subject line that tailors your skills to the jobs. E.g. Developer with 5 years web app experience
Cover letter layout
Every cover letter will be different of course, but try to stick to this basic layout as much as possible, in order to provide the right information, in a logical order.
This will help you to build rapport with readers, and sell yourself to them in the short window of their attention you have.
Start by addressing the recipient
The first thing you need to do in your cover letter, is address the person you are approaching.
Follow with a friendly greeting
You want to appear professional when applying for jobs, but you also need to be friendly and personable.
So, follow with a friendly greeting such as;
- Hope you’re well
- I hope this email finds you well
Always remember that your message will be read by a real person, and they will appreciate being treated well.
Explain which job you are applying for
Once you’ve greeted and warmed up the recruiter with a friendly opening, it’s time to get to the point.
Let the recruiter know exactly which job you are applying for.
Remember that some recruiters will be working scores of vacancies, so be as specific as you can.
Explain why you are suitable for the job
In the body of your cover letter, you should provide a brief explanation of what makes you suitable for the job you are applying for.
This is ultimately what will encourage a recruiter or hiring manager to open your CV .
I will cover how to do this in more detail in the “W hat to include in a cover letter ” section of the guide.
Sign off in a friendly and professional manner
Remembering that your cover letter is a means of communication with the person receiving it – sign off in a friendly yet professional way.
Use a term like;
- Kind regards
- Look forward to hearing from you
Finish with a professional signature
Finally, at the very bottom of your cover letter, add a professional signature .
This will ensure it looks professional, and provide the reader with instant access to your contact details.
Quick tip: If you are writing a cover letter in email, format your signature to make it look extra-professional, and save it as your default signature for all of your outgoing mails.
How to start a cover letter
To start a cover letter, you should always aim to address the recipient by name – this is the best way to start building rapport.
But you are probably thinking, “How do I find their name??”
There are a few ways you can find the name of the person handling the vacancy
- On the job advert – sometimes the name and email address will be on the job advert itself
- Company website – If you’re applying directly to a company, you can often find the recruitment team or head of department on the company About us section
- LinkedIn – If you can determine the company and team for the vacancy, a search on LinkedIn can often uncover the most likely person to be handling the applications.
“What if I can’t find a name?”
If you can’t find a name, don’t panic – you won’t always be able to.
Simply address the recruiter with the word “Hi” – that’s all you can do in that instance.
Don’t use the phrase “ Dear sir or madam” – It’s very old-fashioned and impersonal.
How long should a cover letter be?
A cover letter should be short and sweet.
The purpose of a cover letter, is simply to persuade recruiters to open your CV, so it doesn’t need to be long .
You only need 3 – 6 sentences to write a good cover letter.
You have to bear in mind that recruiters and hiring managers are busy people, so you need to move them on to opening your CV quickly – or you might lose their attention.
What to include in a cover letter
The content you include in your cover letter will determine whether or not the recruiter is impressed by you, and if they will go on to open your CV.
So, it’s crucial that you include the information they want to see.
Here’s what to include…
Firstly, read the job advert properly
Before you start writing your cover letter, you must ensure that you understand what the recruiter wants from applicants.
Study the job advert carefully, and pick out the most important candidate requirements.
Focus mainly on hard skills such as languages, IT systems, industry experience etc.
Don’t focus on personal skills (such as adaptability, teamwork etc,) as they are needed for most jobs and won’t make you stand out.
Once you know what the recruiter wants from a successful candidate, try to reflect those attributes when writing the below points.
If you’re an experienced candidate, employers will mainly be interested in the work you have done in your industry, tools you are familiar with, type of projects you have worked on etc. so make these a focal point of your cover letter.
If you are less experienced (like a graduate or school leaver) focus on adding transferable skills from your studies, that can be carried over to the workplace.
Length of experience
Recruiters will need to know how much experience you have.
- Are you a graduate?
- Senior with 15 years of experience?
If the role you are applying for requires certain qualifications, then it’s crucial to mention them in your cover letter.
However, if the job advert doesn’t ask for them, or you simply know qualifications aren’t important to perform the role – then you can leave them out.
What you are currently doing
Recruiters will want to know what your current situation is, so be sure to inform them.
- Are you currently working in a similar role?
- Have you just left school?
- Are you immediately available, or do you have to work notice?
Your motivation for applying
One question that recruiters will often ask when they receive an application is, “ why is this person applying for the role ?”
And you need to answer that question in your cover letter.
Your reasons for applying should be positive, and suggest that you are looking to make a firm commitment to the employer.
Do write: “After spending 2 years as senior manager at my current firm, I am looking to take a step up to manage a bigger team in a more specialist market”
Don’t write: “ I’ve recently been fired from my old job, so I need a new one quickly”
Results you’ve achieved for employers
If you’re an experienced candidate, it’s a good idea to allude to the kind of results you have achieved for your current or previous employers.
Maybe you have;
- Saved them money
- Brought on new customers
- Improved processes
- Made plenty of sales
Only give an overview in your cover letter to keep things brief – save the detail for your CV .
How to end a cover letter
To end a cover letter , you should do 2 things; provide a strong call-to-action, and sign of professionally.
Provide a strong call to action
What is a call to action?
It’s simply a request to the reader to take a specific action…
In the case of your cover letter, the action you want the recruiter to take is open your CV.
So it can be helpful to write a line like,
“Please find my CV attached” near the bottom of your cover letter, to encourage readers to do so.
Sign off professionally
Finish your cover letter with a friendly term such as, “kind regards” followed by your name.
Then add a professional signature to the bottom, like the one below;
This makes the cover letter look professional and ensures that recruiters have;
- Your full name
- Phone number
- Email address
Cover letter samples
To give you some ideas and inspiration for writing your cover letter, here are 6 example cover letters .
Customer service cover letter
Applying for customer service roles.
This customer service cover letter is short and to-the-point – it quickly delivers a host of reasons why this candidate would be valuable in a customer service role.
See also: sales assistant cover letter example
Finance cover letter
Applying for finance and accounting roles.
This cover letter outlines the candidate’s finance knowledge, and how they could apply it in the workplace
Graduate cover letter
Applying for graduate/student roles.
Graduate’s cover letters are a little longer than most, as they don’t have as much experience, so need to describe their education and transferable skills.
Sales cover letter
Applying for sales roles.
This cover letter boasts the candidate’s ability to make sales and drive revenue.
Project management cover letter
Applying for Project manager roles.
An overview of the candidate’s project manager skills and the types of projects they deliver, are enough to entice recruiters here.
Teacher cover letter
Applying for teaching roles.
This teacher cover letter provides a brief synopsis of the candidate’s teaching abilities and the types of lessons they teach.
Cover letter mistakes
When writing your cover letter, be sure to avoid some of these common mistakes…
Don’t attach your cover letter as a separate document
You want the contents of your cover letter to instantly greet and connect with the recruiter opening it – so attaching it as separate document will slow that process down.
It doesn’t make sense to attach it as a separate document when you can write in the body of your email or message.
Don’t write a whole side of A4
Your cover letter should be a brief introduction and overview of your suitability for the job.
If you write too much, you risk boring the reader and they might skip past your application.
Save the in-depth details for your CV.
Don’t copy and paste the same cover letter
When your applying for lots of jobs, it can be tempting to simply copy and paste your cover letter into every application.
Whilst this will save you time, it will have a negative effect on your applications.
If you don’t take the time to tailor your cover letter for every job, it’s likely that you will miss some of the key requirements for each job, and therefore you will not make as good as impression as you could have.
It’s OK to work from a template, to keep the structure and some important points that you might repeat for most applications – but always tailor each cover letter to the job spec, for best results.
Don’t use “Dear sir or Madam”
This greeting many have worked well in the 1800’s, but it’s dated and impersonal now.
A simple “Hi” is a friendly and professional way to start your cover letter nowadays.
How to write a cover letter – conclusion
Your cover letter is a crucial tool in the quest to land interviews in the job market.
If you follow the advice above, you should be able to create a concise and powerful cover letter that will excite recruiters, and take you one step closer to landing that dream job
Good luck with your job search!
Cover Letter Templates
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16+ Convincing Cover Letter Templates [Pick & Download]
Looking to create a cover letter that stands out? Try one of our 12 cover letter templates (and land that job)!
Cover Letters are usually synonymous with formal and bland rambling that you write down hoping for an invite to a job interview. I just love it how Novorésumé has enhanced that and is offering you a tool to build proper arguments and structured discourse about who YOU ARE and what YOU CAN DO.
A real confidence booster, I tell you, seeing your motivation eloquently written!
Career Strategist, Coach & Trainer
The best thing about this platform when creating a Cover Letter as an addition to your resume is that the documents will match each other's design and font, creating eye-catching documents that recruiters/hiring managers will love.
You will be initially judged based on your papers, so why not make a first great impression?
Matching Cover Letters
To keep your job application consistent and professional, our Cover Letter templates perfectly match the resume templates.
Creative & Standard Templates
Whether you apply for a conservative industry like banking or a hype start-up, you can tailor our cover letter templates to fit your exact needs.
Get Inspired with Our Cover Letter Examples
Cover letters resources, what is a cover letter.
A cover letter is a one-page document you submit alongside your resume or CV for your job application.
The main purpose of your cover letter is to:
Show your motivation for working at the company
Bring special attention to the most important parts of your work history
Explain how your work experience fits whatever the company is looking for
What your cover letter is NOT about, is rehashing whatever you already mentioned in your resume. Sure, you should mention the most important bits, but it should NOT be a literal copy-paste.
Keep in mind that the cover letter is usually read after the recruiter scans your resume and decides that you’re qualified for the position.
Why Use a Cover Letter Template?
Your cover letter is just as (if not more) important as your resume.
After all, your resume is what gets your foot through the door, but a cover letter is what opens that door.
So, if you put so much effort into your resume, why not do the same for your cover letter?
A good cover letter template can show the recruiter that you’re serious about the job (especially if it matches your resume design).
What to Include in Your Cover Letter?
Every good cover letter has the following sections:
Header - On top of the cover letter, you write down your own contact information, as well as the recruiter’s (recruiter name, company name, company address, etc…).
Greeting - A formal greeting for the recruiter. E.g. “Dear Sir or Madam,” To learn how to address your cover letter better, check out our article.
Opening paragraph - The introduction of your resume. Here, you summarize your background info (“financial analyst with X+ years of experience”), state your intent (“looking for X position at Company Y”), and summarize your 1-2 achievements to get the recruiter hooked.
Second paragraph - In the second paragraph, you explain how you’re qualified for the position and why the recruiter should pick YOU.
Third paragraph - You talk about why you’re a good match for the company. Do you share common values? Is the company working on projects you’re interested in? Etc…
Formal closing - Finally, you end the cover letter with a quick summary and a call to action (“I’m super excited to work with Company X. Looking forward to hearing from you!”).
How to Write a Great Cover Letter?
There’s a lot that goes into writing a great cover letter. If you want to get the full picture, you can check out our guide on how to write a cover letter .
Here are, however, some of the key takeaways:
Avoid Fluff - You want to be as specific as possible with your cover letter. Avoid vague statements like “I’m a good fit for the company because I’m a good critical thinker!”
Do Your Research - Most companies don’t like people who “spray and pray” - applying for dozens of jobs without giving any much thought. What they ARE looking for is someone that’s passionate about their company, and wants to contribute. So, do your research about the companies you apply for, and show off your knowledge and passion in your cover letter.
Back Up Your Achievements with Data - When possible, back up your experience with data. Instead of saying, “I improved company revenue”, say “I managed to hit and exceed sales KPIs for 5+ months in a row.”
How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?
Most recruiters agree that a cover letter should be brief and concise. It should be around 1-page max, within a 250 to 400 word range.
How Can I Write a Student Cover Letter?
Pretty much the same way you’d write a regular cover letter, with one difference.
Instead of focusing on your work experience, you should talk about:
Why you want to work for the company you’re applying for
How your educational background prepared you for the job
How your skill-set can help you stand out and excel at the job
See what our customers think
Cover Letter Templates FAQ?
How to make a simple cover letter for your resume.
Simply pick one of our 12 cover letter templates above to get started.
We’d recommend matching your cover letter template to the resume template you picked.
What is the Best Cover Letter Template?
There’s no such thing as the “best cover letter template.” After all, every single recruiter has their own personal taste. Some might like a shiny & flashy cover letter template, while others might think it’s tacky.
As a rule of thumb, though, we usually recommend customizing each cover letter for the company you’re sending it to.
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Three excellent cover letter examples
Cover letters are the first chance you have to impress an employer – they’re not just a protective jacket for your CV. Here’s our guide on what to include and how to format them
- More CV and cover letter templates
- Looking for a job? Explore the range of vacancies on Guardian Jobs and find the perfect role for you
The first thing a potential employer sees in your job application is the cover letter. This doesn’t just support your CV – it’s an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd and persuade the recruiter to put you through to the next round.
Be wary of spending hours on perfecting your CV at the expense of your cover letter. If you need some inspiration on what to include and what format to use, here are our helpful guides – just remember not to copy them as exact templates.
1. Standard, conservative style
This is ideal for sectors such as business, law, accountancy and retail. For more creative sectors, a letter like this might be less appealing, and could work against you.
Dear Mr Black, Please find enclosed my CV in application for the post advertised in the Guardian on 30 November. The nature of my degree course has prepared me for this position. It involved a great deal of independent research, requiring initiative, self-motivation and a wide range of skills. For one course, [insert course], an understanding of the [insert sector] industry was essential. I found this subject very stimulating. I am a fast and accurate writer, with a keen eye for detail and I should be very grateful for the opportunity to progress to market reporting. I am able to take on the responsibility of this position immediately, and have the enthusiasm and determination to ensure that I make a success of it. Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future. Yours sincerely
2. Standard speculative letter
This may vary according to the nature of the organisation and the industry you’re applying to.
Dear Mr Brown, I am writing to enquire if you have any vacancies in your company. I enclose my CV for your information. As you can see, I have had extensive vacation work experience in office environments, the retail sector and service industries, giving me varied skills and the ability to work with many different types of people. I believe I could fit easily into your team. I am a conscientious person who works hard and pays attention to detail. I’m flexible, quick to pick up new skills and eager to learn from others. I also have lots of ideas and enthusiasm. I’m keen to work for a company with a great reputation and high profile like [insert company name]. I have excellent references and would be delighted to discuss any possible vacancy with you at your convenience. In case you do not have any suitable openings at the moment, I would be grateful if you would keep my CV on file for any future possibilities. Yours sincerely
3. Letter for creative jobs
We’ve used the example of a copywriter but you can adapt it for your profession. The aim of a creative letter is to be original and show you have imagination, but understand what the job entails. Balance is essential: don’t be too wacky, or it will turn off the reader.
Dear Ms Green, · Confused by commas? · Puzzled by parenthesis? · Stumped by spelling? · Perturbed by punctuation? · Annoyed at the apostrophe? (And alliteration?) Well, you’re not alone. It seems that fewer and fewer people can write. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who can read. So they’ll spot a gaffe from a mile off. And that means it’s a false economy, unless you’re 100% sure of yourself, to write your own materials. (Or to let clients do it for themselves.) To have materials properly copywritten is, when one considers the whole process of publishing materials and the impact that the client wishes to make, a minor expense. Sloppiness loses clients, loses customers. There is an answer. Me. Firm quotes are free. You can see some of what I do on my multilingual website at [insert web address]. If you’d like, I can get some samples out to you within 24 hours. And, if you use me, you’ll have some sort of guarantee that you can sleep soundly as those tens of thousands of copies are rolling off the presses. Luck shouldn’t come into it! With kindest regards
Other helpful resources
How to write a perfect CV and cover letter
Applying for jobs without experience? How to build and sell your skills
Five steps to the perfect graduate CV
School-leavers and graduates: how to write your first CV
How to write a personal statement for your CV
CV templates to fit every stage of your career
Looking for a job? Browse Guardian Jobs for your next career step.
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How to write a cover letter.
A cover letter introduces you to an employer and asks them to think about your application.
It’s a short letter, usually 3 to 5 paragraphs long.
When to include a cover letter
You should always include a cover letter when you apply for a job using a CV.
You can write it as an email if you’re applying online or print a copy to go with a paper application.
When writing a cover letter, let the employer know you’re keen by showing that you’ve researched the company. Learn more about what they do through:
- their website
- recent news articles
- talking to people you know who work there
Send it to the right person
It's important to try to address your cover letter to someone by name. Check you have the details of the person you need to send it to.
You'll need their name and preferred title. For example, ‘Dr’, ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Ms’, and their job title. You should also make sure you have the right company name and address, including postcode.
If you do not know their name
If the job advert does not include a name you can check the company website. Try to find details of the head of the department, head of human resources or a recruitment manager.
If you still cannot find a name, you can start your letter with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.
Introduce yourself and explain how you found the advertised job. You can mention the job title, and reference number if there is one.
If you’re asking about any job openings and not applying to a vacancy, tell them what sort of job you’re looking for. Let the employer see how keen you are to work for them.
Show you're right for the job
Highlight the skills and experience you have that match what the employer is looking for.
Convince them that you're enthusiastic about working for them. Let them know you share their work values, culture and style.
Give extra information
If you have gaps in your employment history, you could talk about the skills you gained while you were out of work.
If you’ve mentioned on your CV that you have a disability, you might want to talk more about this in your cover letter. Organisations like Disability UK can give you advice on how to do this. You do not have to mention your disability at this stage if you prefer not to.
You can get more help with specialist advice on finding work if you have a disability.
Ending your cover letter
Thank the employer for considering your application. Let them know that they can get more details from your CV, and tell them you're looking forward to hearing from them.
Let them know how they can best contact you. Make sure your contact details are correct on both your cover letter and CV.
Yours sincerely or yours faithfully
If you know the name of the person you’re writing to, you should end the letter with ‘Yours sincerely’.
If you’ve addressed the letter ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, you should end the letter with ‘Yours faithfully’.
Tips for writing a cover letter
When writing your cover letter, remember to:
- write a new one for every job you apply for and make sure it’s tailored to the company and the specific role
- use the same font and size as you do for your CV, so it looks consistent
- make sure the company name and recruiter’s details are correct
- use the right language and tone: keep it professional and match the keywords used by the employer in their job advert
- show you’ve done your research into the job and the company
- highlight your most relevant skills and experience to stand out from other applicants
- back up any statements you make with facts and use the STAR method
- double check spelling and grammar before you send it
- keep a copy of your cover letter as they may ask you about it in an interview
How to write a CV
Completing application forms
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Resume vs Cover Letter: How and When to Use Each
By Katie Duncan Posted on January 8, 2024
Batman has Robin. Mario has Luigi. Simon has Garfunkel.
And resumes? They have cover letters.
They may not have the star power of the other duos on our list, but they do go hand in hand to create a strong job application. And, like every famous pair, they share this common goal despite bringing different things to the table.
We’re here to break down resumes and cover letters— how they’re the same, how they’re different, and how you can use each one to land the job you want.
Resume vs cover letter: How they are the same
Though they are different in many ways, resumes and cover letters have several similarities worth noting:
- They should both be catered to the job you’re applying for.
- Both should be no more than one page, unless otherwise stated by an employer or you’re applying for a job in a field where more detailed applications are commonplace.
Perhaps most of all, they share a common overarching goal: Help you secure an interview by demonstrating your suitability for a job.
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Resume vs cover letter: The big differences
That said, resumes and cover letters are not substitutes for one another. Though they share a common goal, they each have different purposes, unique content, and different formats.
A resume provides a concise and structured summary of your qualifications and skills to help prospective employers assess your suitability for a job.
A cover letter provides more context to your resume. It can be used to introduce yourself, express your interest in a specific job or company, highlight how your experiences align with the job requirements, and more.
Resumes are focused on past and present experiences.They typically contain:
- Contact info
- Professional work experience
Cover letters, on the other hand, may contain a combination of the following:
- Introduction of who you are
- Explanation of why you’re interested in the position
- Highlight of key experiences and how they connect to the job requirements
- Notes about any gaps or possible concerns with your resume
- Enthusiasm for the role
- Aspirations for your career journey
Cover letters are focused more on how your past experiences have prepared you for your future— both at the company you’re applying for and your career as a whole.
Resumes are structured and concise. They use bullet points for clarity and rarely, if ever, contain paragraphs. Recruiters spend an average of six to seven seconds looking at a resume, so you want to give them the major points that showcase why you’re qualified for the job in an easy-to-digest format.
Cover letters are narrative and personal. This is the time to let your personality shine through with paragraphs that contain more details and anecdotes. A cover letter typically contains an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
When to use a resume vs cover letter
A resume will almost always be required when applying for a job.
Cover letters will not always be required. Sometimes they will be optional. Other times, employers may not want you to submit one at all.
How to cater a resume to a job application
Catering your resume to a job application is a crucial step in the job search process. Here are some tips to help you tailor your resume effectively:
- Analyze the job description : Carefully read the job listing and take note of key skills, responsibilities, and qualifications to understand what the employer is looking for.
- Match your skills and experiences : Align your resume with the job description by touching on your relevant experiences and skills in the resume. For instance, if the job requires leadership skills, be sure to showcase your leadership experiences.
- Use keywords : Incorporate industry-specific keywords and buzzwords from the job description. This is especially important for resumes that will be scanned by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
- Prioritize relevant experience : Go into more detail for job experiences that are more relevant to the job you’re applying for.
- Showcase transferable skills : If you are changing industries or roles, emphasize transferable skills that can be beneficial in the new position.
- Keep it concise and relevant : Avoid including experiences or skills that are not relevant to the job. A concise, tailored resume is more effective than a lengthy, generic one.
Remember, the goal of tailoring your resume is to make it as relevant as possible to the job you are applying for. While extraneous skills and experiences can help your case and show that you’re well-rounded, employers are really looking for what will help you succeed in that particular role.
How to cater a cover letter to a job application
Catering your cover letter to a specific job application is as crucial as tailoring your resume.
While the resume focuses on your qualifications and past experiences, the cover letter is your opportunity to make a more personal connection with the employer and further highlight why you’re a great fit for the job.
Here are some strategies to cater a cover letter to a company:
- Research the company : Understand the company’s values, culture, and recent developments. Use this information to demonstrate how your background and interests align with the company’s ethos. You can also mention a recent company achievement or a specific aspect of the company’s culture or mission that resonates with you.
- Address the letter specifically : Whenever possible, address the letter to a specific person, such as the hiring manager. Avoid generic salutations like “To Whom It May Concern” if you know names.
- Start strong: Open your cover letter with a compelling statement that grabs the reader’s attention. For instance, you might start by explaining why you are particularly excited about the job or the company.
- Relate your experience to the job description : Use the job description as a guide. Discuss specific experiences or skills that directly relate to the key responsibilities and qualifications listed.
- Tell a story : Unlike the resume, a cover letter gives you space to tell a story. Share a brief anecdote that demonstrates how you’ve successfully applied relevant skills or how you’ve overcome challenges similar to what you might face in the new role.
- Explain any gaps or transitions : If there are gaps in your resume or you’re making a career transition, the cover letter is a good place to briefly explain these.
- Highlight soft skills: Emphasize soft skills that are critical to the job but harder to convey on a resume.
A cover letter is your chance to make a memorable first impression and to provide context for your application. A well-crafted cover letter that speaks directly to the needs of the employer can significantly boost your chances of landing an interview.
Use your resume and cover letter to your advantage
Together, a resume and cover letter can be used to tell the complete story of your experience, skills, and ambitions. Your resume provides a concise look at your experience, while your cover letter fills in the gaps and adds a personal touch to your application. Always be sure to tailor both documents to the job that you’re applying for to show hiring managers that you’re the best fit for the job.
5 Easy-to-Use Online Resume Tools to Make Better CVs and Land Jobs
T he first step to landing your dream job is to make a resume that will impress any recruiter. From open-source and privacy-friendly online CV makers to AI-assisted cover letters, these free tools make it easier than ever to create a resume that will stand out from the crowd.
1. OpenResume (Web): Open Source, 100% Free and Ad-Free, Privacy-Friendly
A common issue with several online resume builders is that even though they tout they are free, there are several hidden clauses. They'll have ads, or ask you to sign up to store your personal and professional information on their servers or ask for a fee to remove watermarks when downloading the final PDF. OpenResume is an attempt to solve all those issues by building an open-source, completely free, and ad-free online resume builder which also protects your privacy.
OpenResume guides first-time resume makers to create a new CV with a template that relies on best standards and practices. Simply fill the data in the boxes as asked, and you'll see the resume updating in real-time in the preview. You can tweak colors, fonts, and paper size at any time.
The app works in your browser cache, so you won't be sending any of this data to the internet, keeping your information private and safe. OpenResume also includes a parser to check how ATS systems will read your CV, letting you then write an ATS-friendly resume .
2. Leet Resumes (Web): AI Analyzes and Upgrades Your Current Resume
After using writers to create thousands of free resumes for job applicants, Leet Resumes has trained an AI to analyze those resumes and use those learnings to make changes to your existing resume. It's completely free too.
Start by uploading your current resume as a PDF or DOC file. Leet Resumes will then take you through a series of steps to spruce up the CV. It will determine what your next job positions could be, suggest words and skills to add to your current resume, and coax information from you through pointed questions. Once you finish the questionnaire, Leet Resumes will create a new CV for you with all this information.
You can download the resume for free and then even tweak it if you want to make changes. Leet Resumes follows only one resume template design, but it's a standard recommended by founder Marc Cenedella, an expert in recruiting who has also written multiple books on how to write winning resumes.
3. Chat Career (Web): AI-Crafted Resume Tailored for Job Postings
One of the essential tips for a winning resume is to tweak it slightly for each job that you're applying for. It shows you have read the job posting and understood the requirements. Chat Career uses AI to help you make such tailored resumes.
When you start the app, you'll need to add the job description from the company's posting. Then, you can either upload your current CV, give it access to your LinkedIn bio, or craft a new resume from scratch. Chat Career will then review whether you are fit for the job. The AI asks questions in a chat window, much like using ChatGPT. Answer questions in plain English, and provide as many details as you want.
It will brainstorm with you about how you should highlight your experience and qualifications and even suggests how to add missing elements for maximum job fit. Once the process is done, you'll get a new resume, ready to send to this job. And if you save your profile, you can then use Chat Career to quickly generate tailored resumes for any future job postings.
4. CoverLetterGPT (Web): Generate Cover Letters Quickly With ChatGPT
Much like tailoring your CV for the job description, it's good practice to write a cover letter that addresses the hiring manager directly. The key to writing a good cover letter is to succinctly explain why you are the right fit for the job, how your resume will reflect that, and to display your personality through your words. A lot of people struggle with it, but the whole process is much smoother when AI assists you.
As the name suggests, CoverLetterGPT will help you write a cover letter using ChatGPT without needing to learn ChatGPT prompts or even create an OpenAI account. Add the job title, company, job description, and upload your current CV. Once CoverLetterGPT analyzes this input, it'll spit out a cover letter in a few seconds that you can copy-paste into a document.
CoverLetterGPT also lets you easily prompt ChatGPT to change any sentence or paragraph in the cover letter it has generated. Highlight the text, and you'll get an option to ask ChatGPT to make it more concise, detailed, professional, or informal. You can also ask for a whimsical sign-off to add a little fun to your letter.
5. SwiftCV (Web): Free, Beautiful Personal Online Resume Web Page
Can you really afford to apply for a job in the 2020s without an online CV? And it needs to look a little better than a basic web page where you've uploaded your resume as a PDF. SwiftCV makes it easy for anyone with no knowledge of creating websites to make a beautiful online resume that you can share with recruiters.
Create an account, and you can start adding details in different sections, as prompted by SwiftCV. You can also import your LinkedIn profile to quickly populate your online CV. The app makes good use of company logos, font colors, sizes, and other icons to make a resume that looks modern and professional. It also follows a responsive design, so your CV can be read on a computer or phone.
In the end, you'll get an online CV with a custom URL for you. SwiftCV also shows you analytics data of people who viewed your profile, so you can track who is interested. The free version has a few limitations (such as the downloadable PDF and website having SwiftCV branding), but most job-seekers probably don't need to pay for the premium version.
Don't Rely on AI Alone
It's amazing how AI is helping users to create better resumes and CVs, especially for those who don't have senior professionals to guide them through the process. But you do run the risk of not standing out from the crowd if you over-rely on AI. To add a personal touch, use the AI suggestions as a starting block, and edit it to infuse your personality into the resume or cover letter.
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Want to land a better job in 2024? 4 simple steps to kickstart your search
New year, new job?
According to a December CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey of 7,776 U.S. workers, 36% of respondents have seriously considered quitting their job in the last three months.
Survey respondents say the most important factors to their happiness on the job are meaningful work (33%), being paid well (23%), and having control over how they do their work (16%).
Experts say the first quarter of the year is a good time to look for a new position that may fulfill some of those desires. Businesses typically start the year with refreshed budgets that allow them to expand teams, kick off new initiatives and hire employees.
But with so many people assessing their New Year's resolutions and thinking about a new role or career switch, you'll need to stand out from the pack if you want to land a plum position. If you're accelerating your job search this month, here are a few places to start:
Refresh your resume, and don't be afraid to use AI helpers
If you've been in the same position for a few years, there's a chance your resume hasn't been updated since you landed your current role. Recruiters and hiring managers may only spend a few seconds skimming your CV, but that makes it all the more important to have one that's easy to read, and shows you meet their qualifications at a glance.
You can use AI tools to help you out. Many experts recommend using ChatGPT as a resume companion. You can have it help you with your format, bullet points and even incorporating words and phrases from a particular job listing into your experience section. Just be careful — AI tools are known to "hallucinate" information, TopResume career expert Amanda Augustine told CNBC Make It in September, so make sure to be a careful proofreader.
Update your LinkedIn, highlighting skills and promotions
The vast majority of recruiters use LinkedIn as an additional vetting tool for job candidates. So, having an up-to-date profile can boost your chances of finding a new job that suits you and your desires. Make sure your skills section is filled out — with at least five skills — and don't forget to include any promotions you've received .
Updating your LinkedIn profile on a regular basis can even be a good idea if you're not actively applying to new jobs but are in the early stages of considering a switch. Keeping your info current can help recruiters who are scouting the platform for potential new hires find you.
Just don't use the " open to work " sign on your profile, said former Google recruiter Nolan Church , now the CEO of talent marketplace Continuum . It looks a little desperate.
Don't waste time on a cover letter unless it's required
According to former Disney recruiter and HR executive Simon Taylor , cover letters are "entirely optional for roles typically requiring college degrees, and become less relevant for those further along in their career." Most employers simply aren't looking to read another 600 words on why you want the job.
That said, if an application does ask for a cover letter and you do decide to send one, make it worth your time and theirs. "Cover letters are only valuable if they are personalized," Taylor says. So make sure you include not only the role you're applying for but what makes you and your experience an outstanding fit for the position.
Prepare your industry knowledge, interview talking points and wardrobe
Set aside some time for research.
You'll want to not only have a good sense of the position you're applying for and the company from its own website and corporate communications, but also a larger context for industry trends or interesting news in the space — just in case the hiring manager throws you an interview curveball. Make sure to brush up on your answers for common questions — like " Tell me about yourself " — and take note of a few to add to your list of questions you can ask any prospective employer.
It's also a good time to check your closet. With the rise of remote work and hybrid schedules, workwear has erred toward the more casual side of business casual as of late. For interviews, you still want to dress the part — so check out the website or Instagram of anywhere you're applying to see what employees are wearing so you can match the vibe. If you're still in doubt, ask a recruiter about what your prospective employer will be expecting.
This story has been updated to correct the name of TopResume and add a source link.
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How to make your resume stand out from the competition
NORFOLK, Va. — New year, new you? That is what a lot of people say when January rolls around.
If you are leaning into this frame of mind, you might have your sights set on a new job.
While the prospect of landing a new position is exciting, what is not is putting together your resume. People find themselves asking: What font do I use? What qualifications should I highlight? Should I add a picture to set myself apart?
Those questions are what bring people to Norfolk Works , a free job resource and community career center in Norfolk.
“We assist [Norfolk residents] with their resume, connect them with employers and also [provide] short-term training,” says Terry Richards.
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For the past few years, Terry Richards has overseen operations at Norfolk Works.
"Our employees actually sit down with [clients], gather their experience, qualifications, skills, abilities, and accomplishments so that we can actually customize their resume for them," she says.
I picked her brain about how people can build a resume that will set them apart from other candidates. Richards says it starts by picking a clean text that is easy to read and making the format consistent.
“Next, we always ask that you customize your summary in the beginning so that qualifications are included, so that they continue to look forward at the remaining of your resume,” she says.
Then, highlight your experience and tailor it to the job you are applying for.
Dr. Amber Lennon, the Executive Director of Career and Professional Development at Elizabeth City State University, echoes that advice.
“If you see on a job application that they are looking for someone that is ‘innovative,’ ‘creative,’ and has ‘critical thinking skills,' but those words are nowhere on your resume, understand that you may not be selected,” she says. "Most of the time your resume is not being viewed by a person when you apply."
Generally, resumes are filtered through a software system to weed people out. Having more keywords that match the job description will set you apart.
Lennon also tells me that resumes have evolved in recent years.
“When I had my resume in college, I never put that I was fluent, or that I was proficient, in Facebook or that I had a working knowledge of Twitter. But now, if you know how to use TikTok, if you know how to use Chat GPT – all of these things are now acceptable on your resume,” she says.
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Whatever you choose to highlight on your resume, just make sure it represents you and you can back up the skills. The same person that creates the resume should be the same person that shows up to the interviews.
Back at Norfolk Works, after the folks inside help you create your resume, they also help you apply for any open positions you are interested in. It is a free city resource to help build our workforce and connect people with new opportunities.
“We have certified workforce development professionals that collaborate with our clients day-to-day,” Richards says.
If you are looking for help with professional resume writing, filling out online applications, and career exploration, Norfolk Works is open for walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.
Click here for more information about Norfolk Works.
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