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Job Letters in English

Josef Essberger

When you apply for a job, employers ask for two important documents:

  1. A CV or resume
  2. A covering letter

In the last issue we looked at your CV. This issue we will look at your covering letter.

Why You Need a Covering Letter

When you send your CV to apply for a position, you should also include a short letter. This letter is called a covering letter, cover letter or letter of application.

Your letter of application is a sales letter. The product it is selling is your CV.


Your letter should be short, concise and relevant. It should:

  1. confirm that you are applying for the job
  2. say where you learned about the job
  3. say why you want the job
  4. say why you would be a benefit to the company
  5. request an interview


Here is the typical format for your covering letter:

1 Your address - telephone - fax - email
Put your address and telephone number, fax and/or email address at the top in the centre or on the right.

2 Date

3 Destination name and address
This is the name of the person to whom you are writing, his/her job title, the company name and address.

4 Reference
The reference number or code given by the employer in their advertisement or previous letter.

5 Salutation (Dear . . .)
A letter in English usually begins with 'Dear...', even if you do not know the person.

6 Subject
The subject of your letter, which for a job application is normally the Job Title.

7 Body
The letter itself, in 3 to 6 paragraphs

8 Ending (Yours . . .)
Yours sincerely, Yours faithfully, Yours truly

9 Your signature

10 Your name
Your first name and surname, for example Mary Smith, James Kennedy

11 Enclosures
Indicate that one or more documents are enclosed by writing 'Enc 2' for two documents, for example.

In the English-speaking world, an employer would usually prefer to receive a letter of application that is word-processed (that is, produced on a computer and printed). A hand-written letter could be considered unprofessional.

© 2009 Josef Essberger

This article is condensed from Resumes, CVs and Covering Letters in English.