Covering letters

The aim of a covering letter is to persuade the employer to read your CV, so it's vital to make an impact with yours. It needs to clearly highlight why you are interested in the job and why you are suitable. Covering letters should be word processed using the same font and design as your CV. (In some countries, handwritten letters may be the norm if graphologists are used to analyse your personality and suitability on the basis of your handwriting.)

Top tips for a good covering letter:

  • It should be no more than one side of A4.
  • Target it towards the employer and the job. Show knowledge of the position applied for, company and how you fit the role.
  • Use the covering letter to highlight relevant information from your CV – but don't just copy and paste.
  • You can use the covering letter to explain any abnormalities that arise in your CV, such as gaps in your employment history.
  • Make sure the paragraphs are short and clearly themed.
  • Wherever possible, you should address the covering letter to a named person. If necessary, ring the employer to find out the name of the person you should be writing to.
If you are a student or graduate with a disability, you could choose to disclose your disability within the covering letter. Alternatively, you may choose to wait and discuss this in person at a later date. 

Further advice and information

  • Covering Letter Guide (PDF)
  • Prospects – examples of how to write a: standard covering letter, covering letter for a speculative application, covering letter from an international student and a covering letter showing disclosure of a disability
  • To research application methods outside the UK see the Prospects website or visit the Careers and Employability Centre to view the Global Resume Guide
  • Disability, Equality and Diversity Guide guide (PDF) – for information on disclosing a disability
  • Visit the Download zone for a list of all our documents
  • Careers uncovered (PDF) a handy e-guide compiled by Guardian Careers (in association with Guardian Jobs) that takes you through all the essentials of applying for a job.