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.
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.
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
Dear [Hiring Manager],
Your company [Company Name] is well-known for [characteristic] and I would love to join your team and contribute to this reputation as your [job title].
The attached resume will tell you all about my skills that I acquired during [#] years of experience in [your field]. However, the resume won’t tell you that I am passionate about [thing this new position involves] and creating [awesome thing resulting from your skills].
I’m ready to leverage my background in this role with a team that appreciates [relevant qualities], and [company or department name] seems like the right place to apply myself for.
Thank you for your time and consideration,[Your name]
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Dear Mr./Ms. [Name] or Dear Director of Human Resources:
As a [Your Profession] with a proven background in [Areas of Competence], it is with great excitement that I submit my resume for consideration to become a member of your team. My history of hands-on experiences makes me an excellent match for the unique demands of the position.
My resume provides further detail on my passion for [your inclinations]; it is my goal to apply these skills to a new position. I look forward to setting up a meeting to discuss in greater detail how I can benefit your organization. In the interim, thank you for reviewing this letter and the attached material.
Sincerely interested in further exploring this opportunity, I propose we arrange a time for us to meet, where we can discuss your needs and my background in detail. Until then, thank you for your consideration.
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Dear [Hiring Manager]:
Please accept this letter and the accompanying resume as an expression of my interest in a position of a [Job Title], with your organization. As a professional manager with a proven record of [#]y+ in [areas of competence], it is with great excitement that I submit my resume for consideration to become a member of your team.
As my resume indicates, I have a vast professional background in [Name of Industry] industry with revenues ranging from [#] to [#] million dollars. My expertise includes [skills and competencies] along with expertise sharing in order to increase sales, profit margins, and engage employees.
I have enjoyed a responsible career as a [Job Title] with [Company Name], where I succeeded in the following achievements:
- [Measurable Achievement #1].
- [Measurable Achievement #2].
- [Measurable Achievement #3].
My personal attributes include motivational leadership, flexibility, remarkable talents acquisition and client relations skills. I interact productively with people from diverse backgrounds. Strive for cost reduction, maintaining operational excellence and integrity, transparent labor relations along with an outstanding customer solutions provision are my distinct traits.
I am certain I could make significant contributions to your organization, and I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my career path and accomplishments might best be employed by your organization.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response.
Kind regards,[Your name]
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