Cover letters | National Careers Service (2024)

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
Cover letters | National Careers Service (2024)


Do government jobs care about cover letters? ›

Unlike the latter, government or public-sector applications often require a cover letter or personal statement. Landing a job in a government agency takes a special approach and the cover letter is the hiring manager's first glimpse at your skills and qualifications.

What is an example of a good covering letter? ›

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].

Does Usajobs want a cover letter? ›

A cover letter may be included if there is additional information you wish to express to the hiring authorities that is outside of what is normally included in a resume.

Does Usajobs read cover letters? ›

Cover Letters are not mandatory and will not be used to verify experience, but may be submitted. Resumes are required - provide a resume either by creating one in USAJOBS or uploading one from your computer and USAJOBS profile.

What should I avoid in a cover letter? ›

  • 5 things to avoid when writing a cover letter. Author. ...
  • Using a general greeting. ...
  • Being overly friendly. ...
  • Only focusing on what the company can do for you. ...
  • Underselling yourself. ...
  • Copying and pasting a template.

What should a federal cover letter look like? ›

Ensure that your cover letter is professional and matches your Federal government résumés format (font, size, header etc.) Specific rather than vague- Tell exactly what experiences you have had that make you a great candidate for the position, not merely that you have experience.

What not to say in a cover letter for a job? ›

Keep your cover letter format professional and avoid too many personal details. Focus on your strengths as a worker and the key job requirements. You don't need to say your marital status, religion, ethnicity, age, hobbies, or anything else unrelated to your ability to do the job.

What is the first paragraph of a cover letter? ›

The first paragraph, after a salutation, briefly explains why you are writing, the position for which you are applying, and how you learned about the opening. It refers the reader to your enclosed resume that summarizes your skills and qualifications.

What is the opening paragraph of a cover letter? ›

The introduction of your cover letter should begin with a greeting to a specific person ("Dear Ms. Kincaid"), followed by a statement of who you are and why you are writing (why you are a good candidate).

What makes a strong cover letter? ›

Provide details about your accomplishments and impact. Connect how these experiences have prepared you for this role and why you are motivated to do this job. There is no need to apologize if you feel you lack experience; focus on the accomplishments that you have.

How do you write a clever cover letter? ›

How to write a creative cover letter
  1. Research the company. ...
  2. Write a unique opening paragraph. ...
  3. Tell them why you're interested in the company. ...
  4. Highlight what sets you apart. ...
  5. Proofread and personalize.
Jul 28, 2023

How do I write a cover letter for GS? ›

How to Write a Cover Letter for Goldman Sachs
  1. Step 1: Research. ...
  2. Step 2: Highlight Key Details in the Job Description that Match your Experience. ...
  3. Step 3: Contact information. ...
  4. Step 4: Address the Recruiter Formally. ...
  5. Step 5: Have a Powerful Introduction. ...
  6. Step 6: State Why You Are Interested In The Role.

Are cover letters important for federal jobs? ›

Most federal resumes are one to two pages long and can not address the hiring manager directly. A recruiter only gets 7.4 seconds to look at your application. A tailored federal cover letter can pique the recruiter's attention and highlight your most relevant skills and accomplishments to the recruiter.

How do I write a cover letter for recruitment? ›

How to write a cover letter to an agency
  1. Be specific regarding the job you're looking for. ...
  2. Make sure the recruiter or talent agent specializes in jobs that you are appropriate for. ...
  3. Create a well-written resume. ...
  4. Make sure you follow the business letter format. ...
  5. State your intentions from the beginning.
Jun 27, 2023

What do you write in a cover letter for a recruitment agency? ›

Here are the steps to follow when writing a recruitment consultant cover letter:
  1. Review the job posting. ...
  2. Provide contact information and date. ...
  3. Address your letter. ...
  4. Explain your reason for writing. ...
  5. Outline experience and qualifications. ...
  6. Offer value to the employer. ...
  7. Close by restating interest and offering thanks.
Jan 26, 2023

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