Tutorial: How to lay out your cover letter

Reading time: About 4 mins

The trick to a good cover letter is saying everything you want to say, in a way that's engaging and easy to read. A strong structure can help with that.

Our tutorial takes you through a cover letter template of what to put where. Remember, you can always refer to our cover letter examples as a guide as well. 

Introduction

Include a line or heading at the top of your letter, which states the role you want to apply for and any reference number from the job description. This makes it easier for the reader – the company might be recruiting for more than one job at the same time.

You should mention where you heard about the role, and any other documents you’ve attached (for example your CV or application).

If you’re sending a speculative cover letter and CV, you won’t be referring to a specific role. Instead, use this space to talk about what kind of position you’re interested in.

Why you're interested

First, outline why you are interested in the role and the organisation – research the employer and explain how the role fits into your career plans.

What you have to offer

Then highlight the skills and experience you have that relate to this role using the requirements outlined in the job description. Use the same language as the employer so that they can spot it easily. If they’ve got a lot of applications, this will make it easier for them to pull out the important information.

You could use a statement along the lines of ‘There are three key reasons to consider my application’, and then list those reasons with a short explanation of each.

Address the gaps

If you have gaps in your CV, or you’re making a career change, you might want to use an extra paragraph here to explain.

Your conclusion

End positively. Say that you look forward to hearing from them and hope to discuss the role further. It’s also worth mentioning any dates you won’t be available for interview.

If you do manage to address your letter to a particular person, you should sign it off with ‘yours sincerely’. If you’ve had to insert ‘sir/madam’ instead, you should end with ‘yours faithfully’.

Contact details

Sending your cover letter as an email? Save your contact details for your signature at the bottom of the page.

Style a signature for yourself including your name, address, phone number and email (just a reminder – make sure it’s an appropriate email address!) You could also add links such as your LinkedIn profile, or your Twitter handle if you use this professionally.

If you’re writing a letter to post or attach as a document, treat it as a traditional letter and put your name and address in the top right-hand corner. Add the company’s name and address below this on the left-hand side of the page.

 

Need some more pointers?

Check out our example cover letters: