What makes a good Cover Letter?

1. It should be brief (one page), precise, and written in a business letter style.

2. No spelling or typing errors. Not even one. Check and recheck for accurate spelling and grammar. Do not rely on spell-check.

3. Address it to the person who can hire you. Resumes sent to the personnel department have a tougher time of it. If you can find out (through networking and researching) exactly who is making the hiring decision, address the letter to that person. Be sure the name is spelled correctly and the title is correct. A touch of formality is good too: address the person as "Mr.," "Ms.," "Mrs.," "Miss," "Dr.," or "Professor." Cover letters should never include the salutations "To Whom It May Concern," "Dear Hiring Partner," or "Dear Sir or Madam."

4. Write it in your own words so that it sounds like you not like something out of a book. Employers are looking for knowledge, enthusiasm, focus.

5. Show that you know something about the company and the industry. This is where your research comes in. Don't go overboard just make it clear that you didn't pick this company out of the phone book. You know who they are, what they do and you have chosen them!

6. Use terms and phrases that are meaningful to the employer. (This is where your industry research and networking come in.) Your cover letter should match your professional and personal qualifications with what the organization specifically needs for the position, it is not self-centered. If you are applying for an advertised position, use the requirements in the ad and put them in BOLD type. For example: the ad says "2 years' experience processing magnetic media (cartridge, tape, disc); interface with benefit plan design, contracts and claims; and business background withstrong analytical & technical skills dBase, Excel, R&R, SQL." Make sure your cover letter contains each of these requirements and shows how you measure up.



Language Development

Exercise 1. Cover Letters

The letter of application you send with your CV is sometimes called a Cover Letter (Covering Letter). It is usually the first direct contact between a candidate and an employer, so make sure it is well-written and presented. It should normally contain 3-4 paragraphs.


Letter Content

Here is a list of points you should include:

  • Say that you would like to apply
  • Say where you found out about the job
  • Say why you would like the job
  • Say why you are qualified to do the job
  • Say you can provide more information if necessary
  • Say when you would be available for interview

Useful phrases

Select the correct words from the brackets so that this Cover Letter is in good English.


Dear Mr Saleh,


I am writing to (apply; ask; request) for the position of Editorial Assistant which was (shown; advertised; presented) in the latest edition of Gulf News.


I am currently (worked; employed; used) by a Market Research company as a research assistant, but am keen to (out; pursue; take) a career in publishing, because I enjoy reading and write my own poetry.


As you will notice on the (included; mentioned; attached) CV, I graduated in European Literature. At University I gained considerable (experiment; expression; experience) working on the student magazine, so I am (familiarised; familier; familiar) with editing techniques. I work well under (anxiety; demands; pressure) and enjoy working in a team. In addition, I speak English (well; fluently; strongly).


I would be (available; around; accessible) for interview from next week. Meanwhile, please do not (wait; hesitate; stop) to contact me if you require further information.


I look forward to hearing from you.


Yours sincerely,

Margareth Roan

Margaret Roan



advertisedmade known to people

to applyto ask in a formal way to be considered for a job

to pursueto have, to chase, to follow

to work well under pressureto be able to keep calm and do a good job in difficult situations



Exercise 2. Style (part 1)

Look at the following tips for writing Cover Letters. Decide whether the following tips for writing Cover Letters are true or false.

1. The letter should be as friendly and informal as possible.

2. You should avoid slang & idiomatic language.

3. Your sentences should be long and complex.

4. It is fine to use contracted forms (e.g. I'm, it's).

5. Emotive words (wonderful, great, terrible) should be avoided.


Match the words and expressions on the left with their definitions on the right.

1. informal a.complicated, not simple

2. slang b.language using groups of words which have a certain meaning that is different from the ordinary meaning of each individual word e.g. 'My boss bit my head off when I was late for work' (my boss was angry and told me off)

3. idiomatic language c.relaxed, friendly

4. complex d.very informal words and language

What's next?

Exercise 3. Style (part 2)

Here are some common phrases you might use when applying for a job. However, the prepositions are missing choose the correct ones from the table below. Some prepositions are used more than once.


to of under in for


1. I would like to apply ___ the position ___

2. If you would like to discuss this ___ more detail

3. I enjoy working ___ pressure

4. I was ___ charge ___

5. I was responsible ___

6. With reference ___



Task 1. Cover letter

Read the following Job ad and write a cover letter.


RECEPTIONIST Part-time Age 18-25 (male or female). Good looking. No previous experience required. Essential: friendly calm personality and knowledge of English, Windows and Excel. Good salary.   Write to: Mrs Higgins, Personnel Department, Beaver Hotel, River Rd., Bristol



(your address) __________________ __________________ (date) ______/______/_____ (the employers address) __________________________ __________________________   Dear Sir(s)/ Madam,   I would like to apply for the vacancy as a ______________(job) advertised in ___________ (name of news paper) of ________ (date).   I am ___________(age) and at the moment I __________________________(school and what you are studying) I am good at _______________________________________________________________________________________ ( some of your qualities). _______________________________________________________________________________________( working experience, if any). I am very interested in working as ________________(job), because _________ _________________________( reasons of applying).   I am available for an interview ______________________ (dates and times) and I can start working _______________________ (date), but if is inconvenient for you, I would be happy to arrange another date.   I look forward to hearing from you soon.   Yours faithfully, ____________________ (signature) _____________________ (your name capital letters)  



Unit 5 Reference Letters/Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation may be written in a classic format that includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. There may also be specific requirements for certain letters that you may need to follow.

Reference Letter Template

Salutation If you are writing a personal letter of reference, include a saluation (Dear Dr. Smith, Dear Mr. Jones, etc.). If you are writing a general letter, say "To Whom it May Concern" or simply don't include a saluation. Paragraph 1 The first paragraph of the reference letter template explains your connection to the person you are recommending, including how you know them, and why you are qualified to write a reference letter to recommend employment. Paragraph 2 The second paragraph of the reference letter template contains specific information on the person you are writing about, including why they are qualified, what they can contribute, and why you are providing a reference letter. Paragraph 3 When writing a specific letter referring a candidate for a particular job opening, the reference letter template will include information on how the person's skills match the position they are applying for. Ask for a copy of the job posting and a copy of the person's resume so you can target your reference letter accordingly. Summary This section of the reference letter template contains a brief summary of why are you are recommending the person. State that you "highly recommend" the person or you "recommend without reservation" or something similar. Conclusion The concluding paragraph of the reference letter template contains an offer to provide more information. Include the phone number and email address in the return address section of your letter, or in your signature.     Sincerely,   Writers Signature Writers Name Title

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