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What To Write In A Cover Letter For An Application

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 or sign up to Guardian Careers for the latest job vacancies and career advice

Sample Cover Letter for Job Application With Writing Tips

The following is an example of a letter of application sent with a resume to apply for a job. Use this example as a guideline when writing your own job application cover letters. Also see below for an example a job application letter sent by email and tips for what to include and how to write a letter to apply for a job.

Your job application letter is an opportunity to highlight your most relevant qualifications and experiences, enhancing your resume, and increasing your chances of being called for an interview.

Your letter should detail your specific qualifications for the position and the skills you would bring to the employer. See below for how to email your application letter.

What to Include in Your Letter

As with all cover letters, the body of this job application letter is divided into three sections: the introduction, which details why the applicant is writing; the body, which discusses relevant qualifications; and the closing, which thanks the reader and provides contact information and follow-up details.

Sample Job Application Letter 

John Donaldson
8 Sue Circle
Smithtown, CA 08067
909-555-5555
john.donaldson@emailexample.com

Date

George Gilhooley
XYZ Company
87 Delaware Road
Hatfield, CA 08065

Dear Mr. Gilhooley,

I am writing to apply for the programmer position advertised in the Times Union. As requested, I am enclosing a completed job application, my certification, my resume, and three references.

The opportunity presented in this listing is very interesting, and I believe that my strong technical experience and education will make me a very competitive candidate for this position. The key strengths that I possess for success in this position include:

  • I have successfully designed, developed, and supported live use applications
  • I strive for continued excellence
  • I provide exceptional contributions to customer service for all customers

With a BS degree in Computer Programming, I have a full understanding of the full lifecycle of a software development project. I also have experience in learning and excelling at new technologies as needed.

Please see my resume for additional information on my experience.

I can be reached anytime via email at john.donaldson@emailexample.com or my cell phone, 909-555-5555.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this employment opportunity.

Sincerely,

Signature (for hard copy letter)

John Donaldson

Sample Email Letter of Application

Subject: FirstName LastName - Web Content Manager Position

Dear Contact Person:

I'm writing to express my interest in the Web Content Manager position listed on Monster.com. I have experience building large, consumer-focused health-based content sites. While much of my experience has been in the business world, I understand the social value of the non-profit sector and my business experience will be an asset to your organization.

My responsibilities included the development and management of the site's editorial voice and style, the editorial calendar, and the daily content programming and production of the website.

I worked closely with healthcare professionals and medical editors to help them provide the best possible information to a consumer audience of patients. Also, I helped physicians learn to utilize their medical content to write user-friendly, readily comprehensible text.

Experience has taught me how to build strong relationships with all departments at an organization. I have the ability to work within a team as well as cross-team. I can work with web engineers to resolve technical issues and implement technical enhancements, work with the development department to implement design and functional enhancements, and monitor site statistics and conduct search engine optimization.

Thank you for your consideration.

Signature (hard copy letter)

FirstName LastName

Tips for Writing a Strong Application Letter 

Follow these strategies to write a strong letter: 

  • Get off to a direct start: In your first paragraph, explain simply why you are writing. Mention the job title and company name, and also where you came across the job listing. While you can also briefly mention why you are a strong candidate, this section should be short and to-the-point. 
  • Offer something different than what's in your resume: It's rare to send an application letter without also sending a resume. Your application letter, therefore, doesn't have to duplicate your resume. Your language can be a bit more personal than in resume bullet points — you can tell a narrative about your work experience and career. 
  • Make a good case. Your first goal with this letter is to move on to the next step: an interview. Your overarching goal, of course, is to get a job offer. Use your application letter to further both of these causes. Offer details about your experience and background that show why you are a good candidate. How have other jobs prepared you for the position? What would you bring to the position, and to the company?  Use this space to emphasize your strengths. 
  • Close with all the important details. Include a thank you at the end of your letter. You can also share your contact information. If you'd like, mention how you will follow up.   

How to Send an Email Application Letter

If you're sending your cover letter via email, list your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message. Include your contact information in your email signature, but don't list the employer's contact information. Skip the date, and start your email message with the salutation. Here's an example of a formatted email cover letter.

How to Write a Job Application Letter
Here's how to write a letter of application for a job, including what should be included in the letter, choosing a font size and style, and letter spacing and formatting.

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