When you apply for a job with a curriculum vitae (CV), it's important to include a cover letter, also known as a covering letter. This letter allows you to make a favorable first impression, using narrative in your own tone of voice to catch the reader’s attention and encourage her to give a serious review to your attached resume.
Tailor the Letter to Fit the Organization
The letter should be tailored to respond to the unique and specific requirements requested by each organization you are approaching. Don’t try to use the same cover letter for every job you apply for. Each letter needs to provide detailed information about why are you are qualified for the specific job in question, and it should outline the reasons for your interest in the company or organization.
Use your cover letter to identify the skills or experiences most specific to the job, rather than restating the information in your CV.
What to Include
Kevin Fitzgerald is the North American Marketing Communications Manager for Michael Page International, one of the world's leading professional recruitment consultancies. He provides the following suggestions about what information to incorporate into your curriculum vitae cover letter:
- The content of your cover letter should be brief and structured. Avoid lengthy repetition of information covered in your CV. Unlike a CV, it is acceptable to write a cover letter in the first person.
- Your letter should address the relevant contact, whose name often appears in the job advertisement. Avoid “Sir” or “Madam” if possible.
- If you are replying to a job ad, say so. Mention the job title, any reference number, and where and when you saw it.
- In some cases, an advertisement will indicate that a more substantial letter is required. Always follow specific instructions and include any information if it is specifically requested. Your current salary is an example.
- Briefly outline your current situation and why you are seeking change. Include mention of your current or last job, qualifications, and professional and academic training, tailoring your information to make it as relevant as possible to the organization or job applied for.
- Tell the potential employer a little about themselves to demonstrate you have properly read the position description and that you have done some research into the organization. Also, state why you are interested in them as an employer.
- Succinctly emphasize why an employer may want to meet and employ you. Highlight your transferable skills, achievements, and versatility. Explain what you can contribute and what makes you stand out from your competition. You also can mention personality traits relevant to the role applied for, taking care not to appear too subjective.
- Ensure that your CV cover letter flows freely, however, and does not slavishly match every point on the job description. The reader should be left with an overall impression that you are a potentially valuable addition to the workforce.
- Negative information of any sort should be avoided in your cover letter as well as on your CV.
- Close your letter with a polite expression of interest in further dialogue with the recruiter. Do mention that you would like the opportunity to discuss your suitability further in a personal interview and that you await a response in due course.
- Ensure your letter is neatly and clearly presented with no grammatical or spelling errors.
- Emailed cover letters should be written in a common font such as Times New Roman, Verdana, or Courier New with standard formatting that should emulate a handwritten letter in terms of style.
Cover Letter Sample
This is a cover letter example. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Cover Letter Sample (Text Version)
Depending on the employer's submission requirements, curriculum vitae cover letters can be submitted online with your CV, uploaded online, or mailed. Be sure to follow the application instructions and follow the directions on how to apply. Consider this template for how to structure your letter:
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
September 1, 2018
Biology Department Chair
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Mr. Lee:
I am writing to apply for the position of assistant professor in the Biology department, as described in the Northern University website. The opportunity to teach biology appeals to me, and I believe I can be an asset to the department due to my experience as a field biologist, as well as my work as an adjunct professor at Southern State University. In accordance with your job description, I have the following skills:
• Experience lecturing to large audiences
• Experience with learning management systems and course design
• Ability to assist with labs for other professors
• Experience with grant writing and research
I have enclosed my curriculum vitae so you may examine my work and research experience, the papers I’ve published, and my educational background.
I can be reached anytime by email at Belinda.firstname.lastname@example.org or my cell phone, 555-555-5555. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this position.
Belinda Applicant (signature hard copy letter)
Sending an Email Cover Letter
When you are sending your cover letter by email, list your contact information in your signature rather than at the top of the letter. List your name and the job title in the subject line of the message.