Applications] [My CV] [Covering
Writing a letter is not always as straightforward
as might be supposed. It is worth taking time to create the best
possible impression. Size, quality of paper, layout and neatness
all contribute to this effect. By the time the letter has been
read, the employer will have been influenced by the way it has
been written, as well as by its content.
Introducing a CV
Every CV sent by post needs to have a covering
letter to introduce it. The letter
- must encourage the employer
to take your CV seriously
- sets the reader's expectations
of what will be in the CV
- persuades the employer
that you are a suitable candidate for the job
- indicates evidence for
the claims you make about yourself.
Introducing an application
While an application form handed in at the
Careers Service for a visiting ('milkround') interviewer can stand
alone, one sent by post should be accompanied by a letter. A letter
is especially useful if the form does not give you an opportunity
to mention essential facts about your suitability for the job or
to make your case effectively. It can sometimes ensure that your
application is taken more seriously than it would otherwise be.
Above all it gives you the opportunity to emphasise your suitability
for the job.
Use of English
In writing a letter, you should try to:
- capture the reader's
- express what you need
to say as concisely as you can
- convey a positive attitude
of reasonable confidence
- avoid grammatical and
Structure and content
There are no hard and fast rules for constructing
a letter, but the following provides a guide. You may find it useful
to experiment with formats to see which works best for you.
Beginnings and endings
Address by name if you can, such as:
and conclude with
If you have no name, address as
and conclude with
The first paragraph(s)
Useful phrases: in response to your advertisement
. . . following our telephone conversation . . . would like to be
considered for . . . here is my CV for your consideration . . .
writing to enquire whether . . .
- Identify who you are,
what job you are applying for, and how you heard about it
- Perhaps provide a brief
summary of your main 'selling points'.
The middle paragraph(s)
These can address two main themes, perhaps
in separate paragraphs, in whatever order suits you best:
Possible selling points: relevant work experience;
related interests and skills, especially if these are not fully
covered elsewhere; aspects of your course that are particularly
- Give details of why
you want to join the organisation and do that particular job
- sound keen and enthusiastic - show that you've found out about
the employer and the job
- Say why they should
be interested in you - give your main selling points
- Deal with any negative
aspects of your application - if you can justify any weak points
in your application form with a genuine explanation, this may
be included, such as poor A-levels owing to illness.
Useful phrases: as you
can see from my CV . . . attracted to working for you because
. . . I can offer . . . especially interested in . . . my main
skills are . . . most important qualifications and experience
are . . .
The last paragraph(s)
Useful phrases: happy to supply further information
. . . available for interview at any time . . . look forward to
hearing from you . . .
- Restate your interest
and summarise your suitability
- Perhaps ask for an interview,
mentioning dates when you are available or unavailable
- End the letter - on
a polite and optimistic note
The first impression of your letter should
be clear and well presented. It should be laid out in such a way
that it is visually attractive, neither squashed nor with a blank
space at the end. A4 white paper of good quality is always acceptable
rather than coloured paper, and it should be plain and not lined.
Unless a hand-written letter
is requested, a word processed letter looks business like and
professional, and you can get more information on to a page. Employers
are used to both. If it is hand-written make sure that it is legible.
Both of these contain more hints on letter
- How to Write a CV, University
of London Careers Service
- How to Complete an Application
Form, University of London Careers Service
Example of a letter
The following may be used as a guide to preparing
your own letter.
16 Wilson Street
London EC2 0PY
1st October 1996
Miss J. Anderson
Human Resources Department
44 Strand Green
London SW1 4PQ
Dear Miss Anderson
Ref: Assistant Press Officer
I am writing in response to your advertisement of 30th
September for the above position. I enclose my Curriculum
Vitae for your consideration.
As you will see I have had considerable experience
of press officer work during my years at University.
I was responsible for all press contacts for our student
union and for the production of press releases for a
number of events.
My work experience during vacations has developed a
number of the skills mentioned in your advertisement,
particularly team working and meeting deadlines, and
I think that I could bring ideas and enthusiasm to the
I look forward to hearing from you.