The first thing a potential employer sees in your job application is the cover letter. This doesn't just support your CV – it's an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd and persuade the recruiter to put you through to the next round.
Be wary of spending hours on perfecting your CV at the expense of your cover letter. If you need some inspiration on what to include and what format to use, here are our helpful guides – just remember not to copy them as exact templates.
1. Standard, conservative style
This is ideal for sectors such as business, law, accountancy and retail. For more creative sectors, a letter like this might be less appealing, and could work against you.
Dear Mr Black,
Please find enclosed my CV in application for the post advertised in the Guardian on 30 November.
The nature of my degree course has prepared me for this position. It involved a great deal of independent research, requiring initiative, self-motivation and a wide range of skills. For one course, [insert course], an understanding of the [insert sector] industry was essential. I found this subject very stimulating.
I am a fast and accurate writer, with a keen eye for detail and I should be very grateful for the opportunity to progress to market reporting. I am able to take on the responsibility of this position immediately, and have the enthusiasm and determination to ensure that I make a success of it.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
2. Standard speculative letter
This may vary according to the nature of the organisation and the industry you're applying to.
Dear Mr Brown,
I am writing to enquire if you have any vacancies in your company. I enclose my CV for your information.
As you can see, I have had extensive vacation work experience in office environments, the retail sector and service industries, giving me varied skills and the ability to work with many different types of people. I believe I could fit easily into your team.
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].
I have excellent references and would be delighted to discuss any possible vacancy with you at your convenience. In case you do not have any suitable openings at the moment, I would be grateful if you would keep my CV on file for any future possibilities.
3. Letter for creative jobs
We've used the example of a copywriter but you can adapt it for your profession. The aim of a creative letter is to be original and show you have imagination, but understand what the job entails. Balance is essential: don't be too wacky, or it will turn off the reader.
Dear Ms Green,
· Confused by commas?
· Puzzled by parenthesis?
· Stumped by spelling?
· Perturbed by punctuation?
· Annoyed at the apostrophe? (And alliteration?)
Well, you're not alone. It seems that fewer and fewer people can write. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who can read. So they'll spot a gaffe from a mile off. And that means it's a false economy, unless you're 100% sure of yourself, to write your own materials. (Or to let clients do it for themselves.)
To have materials properly copywritten is, when one considers the whole process of publishing materials and the impact that the client wishes to make, a minor expense. Sloppiness loses clients, loses customers.
There is an answer. Me. Firm quotes are free. You can see some of what I do on my multilingual website at [insert web address]. If you'd like, I can get some samples out to you within 24 hours. And, if you use me, you'll have some sort of guarantee that you can sleep soundly as those tens of thousands of copies are rolling off the presses.
Luck shouldn't come into it!
With kindest regards
Other helpful resources
•How to write a perfect CV and cover letter
•Applying for jobs without experience? How to build and sell your skills
•Five steps to the perfect graduate CV
•School-leavers and graduates: how to write your first CV
•How to write a personal statement for your CV
•CV templates to fit every stage of your career
Looking for a job? Browse Guardian Jobs or sign up to Guardian Careers for the latest job vacancies and career advice
Samples of the Best Cover Letters
Cover Letter Examples Listed by Type of Job and Letter
When applying for a job, you should always include a cover letter. Even if a job listing does not specifically request a cover letter, it can be a terrific way to summarize your skills and experiences, and explain (in more detail than a resume) why you are an ideal candidate for the job.
It's important to write a letter that specifies what makes you one of the best candidates for the position. Your cover letter should be well written, and should be targeted to the position for which you are applying.
Make connections between your experiences and the skills required to excel in the job. Your cover letter is one of the first thing the hiring manager will see (along with your resume), so make sure it grabs the reader’s attention.
Use these cover letter samples to get ideas for your own cover letters, so you can show employers why you should be selected for an interview.
How to Use Cover Letter Samples
Cover letter samples are a great place to start before writing your own letter. Read through some of the samples below, focusing on ones related to your industry.
These samples can help you format your letter. They can also give you ideas for the language you might want to use, and the information you should include.
However, be sure to customize your letter to fit your own skills and experience, and the job for which you are applying. You can also alter the format of a resume example. For instance, if the example has three paragraphs, and you only want to include two paragraphs, you can do so.
Also be sure to read this list of tips for writing a strong cover letter, and this detailed cover letter guide. If you are having trouble with a particular section of your cover letter, check out these articles on cover letter salutations, cover letter closings, and parts of a cover letter.
Best Cover Letter Samples
Review an alphabetical list of great cover letter examples listed by occupation, as well as by type of cover letter.
Use these examples to get ideas for your own cover letters.
A - E
· Academic Advisor
· Academic Cover Letter
· Academic Cover Letter (science)
· Administrative Coordinator
· Admissions Counselor
· Applying for More Than One Job
· Athletic Director
· Biomedical Engineer
· Block Format Cover Letter
· Business/Technical (with referral)
· Camp Counselor
· Career Change
· Cold Contact Cover Letter
· College Graduate
· College Graduate
· College Student
· Communications Director (email cover letter)
· Construction Management
· Customer Service
· Database Administrator
· Development/Museum Position
· Director of Operations
· Editorial Assistant (email cover letter)
· Education/Alternative Education
· Email Cover Letters
· Employee Referral
· Entry Level (analyst)
· Entry Level (finance)
· Entry Level (marketing)
· Event Planner
F - M
· Faculty Position
· Finance Internship
· Flight Attendant
· Front End Web Developer
· Golf Caddy
· Hair Stylist
· Higher Education Communications
· Information Security Analyst
· Informational Meeting Request Letter
· Internal Marketing (with referral)
· Job Promotion Cover Letters (communications and retail)
· Job Transfer Request Letter
· Job Transfer Request Letter Example (relocation)
· Letter of Interest
· Letter of Interest
· Market Research Analyst
· Marketing Assistant (college student)
· Media Relations (college graduate)
N - R
· Networking Cover Letters
· Occupational Therapist
· Office Assistant (part-time)
· Part-Time Job
· Physical Therapist
· Programmer Analyst
· Prospecting Letter
· Recruiting Manager
· Referred by a Contact
· Request a Meeting
· Research Technician
· Retail Management
S - Z
· Salary History
· Salary Range
· Salary Requirements
· Sales Associate (summer)