Example Cover Letter for CV [2 Templates, 10 Tips and 10 Mistakes]

Example of cover letter for CV

Learning from your mistakes helps you to improve.

Following good advice enables you to fine-tune and perfect.

But what happens when you both improve and fine-tune?

You'll find out when you read our two example cover letters:

  • The worst cover letter, which contains the 10 most serious mistakes you can make (because forewarned is forearmed)
  • The best cover letter, which applies the 10 most important tips (because positive examples are good too!)

So what are you waiting for?

Example of an effective letter of motivation

First off, let's explain why we are starting with a cover letter template that is full of mistakes.

There's one point we can surely all agree on:

A cover letter needs to be part of your survival kit if you want to look for work successfully.

You can't afford to make errors. The stakes are too high and it would be crazy to lose out due to inexperience.

The majority of the worst mistakes in CV cover letters are in fact due to a lack of experience.

In other words:

You think you are doing things the right way because you don't know any better.

But that's simply not good enough.

The jobs market is so competitive, you need a sure-fire method for success.

So what's the answer?

There's a quick and easy way: capitalize on other people's mistakes.

That's why we are starting with the bad cover letter:

You'll find all the most common mistakes selectors complain about in CV cover letters.

But seeing as how the mistakes by themselves can only tell you so much, we've also included a brief explanation for each one.

Example of professional cover letter

[P.S. if we're honest, it's not actually the worst cover letter ever written. That honour goes to the unwritten cover letter.

You see, writing a CV and not sending a cover letter with it is a crime so evil it just doesn't bear thinking about.]

Once you've seen how NOT to write a CV cover letter, we'll show you a good cover letter example that corrects the mistakes and applies our top tips - which also come with brief explanations!

Note:

The example letters work for both advertised vacancies and speculative applications.

So let's get started straight away with the first example cover letter!

This Cover Letter Will Get Your Application Rejected (DON'T Follow This Version)

Bad example of unsuccessful letter

Accompanying us on our journey through our cover letter dos and don'ts will be our hero, Jack.

Jack is every one of us. He makes the mistakes that we all make and then corrects them like we all ought to.

Now:

Jack needs to write a cover letter so he can he reply to an ad for a job in Digital Marketing.

He wrote a first draft, but then decided not to send it because he wasn't sure if he'd done a good job or not.

[SPOILER ALERT: If he had sent it, Jack's application would have been rejected!]

Instead, he sends it to a friend who works in recruitment - a smart move on Jack's part.

His friend read it and highlighted the parts in which he'd made mistakes. Let's take a look at them now!


Jack Jones - Manchester {1}
madjak@email.com {2}

To whom it may concern {3},

I am writing to you to submit my CV for consideration as I believe I am the candidate you are looking for {4}.

I have always been passionate about Digital Marketing, although I was unable to explore it in as much detail as I would have liked during the course of my studies (after my A-Levels, I achieved a BA (Hons) in Economics, followed by an MA in Political Science) {5}.

I have gained a fair amount of experience of traditional marketing working for a number of different companies {6}, but I would now like to get into the field of Digital Marketing, which has always been my true passion {7}.

I feel that your company is the perfect place for me to transform my professional profile by acting as a launch pad for a dynamic career in marketing {8}.

Since my previous experience was in a different sector, I do not yet have {9} any direct experience in Digital Marketing, but nevertheless feel sure that my enthusiasm and passion will enable me to make up for this in a very short space of time!

Yours faithfully {10}

Jack Jones


Right, time for the post-mortem on Jack's letter.

The Secrets of the Cover Letter Revealed: the Bad Version

Example of a bad cover letter

Let's look at the letter step-by-step together with poor old Jack and find out what went wrong and why.

  • {1} Jack Jones - Manchester

Jack's contact details are incomplete. There's no phone number or email address, so how are people supposed to contact him? Why needlessly make the selector's life difficult?

  • {2} madjak@email.com

I don't think we need to tell you what's wrong with this. Clearly, Jack needs to get himself a professional-sounding email address.

  • {3} To whom it may concern

We don't know if Jack did everything humanly possible to track down a contact name for his cover letter, but if he didn't, he really should have. Personalized marketing emails have been found to return a 3.5x better response rate than non-personalized emails. And if it works for sales, it'll work for anything.

  • {4} l am writing to you to submit my CV for consideration as I believe I am the candidate you are looking for.

There's no reference whatsoever to the job ad. This either means Jack couldn't be bothered to spend 10 seconds of his time putting in the position and reference code - a bad mistake - or else that he's sending the same identical cover letter to 100 different companies. Which is an even worse one.

Analysis of example CV cover letter

  • {5} (after my A-Levels, I achieved a BA (Hons) in Economics, followed by an MA in Political Science).

Jack has opted to give us the low-down on his education - A-Levels, BA and Master's, the lot. But what does this information tell the selector? And what added value does it bring? The answer is practically nil. Jack has wasted two lines of his cover letter on something he could really have left out.

  • {6} I have gained a fair amount of experience of traditional marketing working for a number of different companies

Jack really couldn't have been any vaguer if he'd tried. What was required here was precision, details and figures. How many years, in what position, for which companies and with what results? When he writes his new cover letter, Jack will need to focus on using these questions as a guide.

  • {7} but I would now like to get into the field of Digital Marketing, which has always been my true passion.

Too many words and too little evidence. Jack needs to add some detail to back up his claims to be a digital marketing enthusiast - say, dropping the name of a niche blog or a specific product, or referencing issues facing the industry - the kind of details only a real enthusiast would be aware of.

Mistakes you should avoid

  • {8} I feel that your company is the perfect place for me to transform my professional profile by acting as a launch pad for a dynamic career in marketing.

This may well be the case. But while Jack focuses on how perfect the job is for him, he is forgetting that it remains to be seen if the opposite is true. By concentrating only on his perspective, Jack passes up the chance to tell the company about the added value he can bring - in other words, why they should be calling him and not someone else!

  • {9} Since my previous experience was in a different sector, I do not yet have

In addition to having no experience of Digital Marketing, Jack can't knit and is a terrible chess player. But none of these three items need mentioning in his cover letter. Justifying your lack of experience is a waste of space. Experience can be acquired, and other qualities are much more important. These are what Jack should be focusing on if he wants to sell himself.

  • {10} Yours faithfully

Wait, “Yours faithfully” is a mistake? Well, no, actually the problem is not so much what Jack has written but what he hasn't. Perhaps the goal of a cover letter - persuading the selector to read his CV - has momentarily slipped his mind. By closing his letter at this stage without any call to action, Jack has seriously undermined its effectiveness. Not a mistake he wants to be repeating!

Jack gazes dolefully at his first cover letter.

It didn't go all that great. Just as well he didn't send it!

Now he needs to capitalize fully on his mistakes.

How?

By drawing up a list of the ten worst mistakes...

The 10 Worst Mistakes of Cover Letter Writing [+1 Bonus]

List of worst mistakes in cover letter

  1. Incomplete or incorrect contact details
  2. Unprofessional email address
  3. No recipient name - hence no personalization
  4. No reference made to advertised position
  5. Unnecessary detail taking up space
  6. No details provided of work experience
  7. No evidence provided of motivation
  8. No consideration given to company's perspective
  9. Attention drawn to lack of experience
  10. No call to action

In addition to these 10 mistakes, there is another you need to bear in mind:

Bad spelling and grammar.

What does it mean?

If you write a letter that is full of typos and grammatical errors, these may have the effect of rendering what you say useless.

Essentially, your reader will have already made his or her mind up about you before even getting to the content of your letter!

Ok, so back to our hero, who can afford to give himself a pat on the back.

Why?

Because now he's aware of the mistakes he made and has decided to rewrite his letter from scratch...

...but not before reading a complete guide on writing a successful cover letter.

Jack has tried once and failed.

But he's done his homework and is now back to try again!

The Cover Letter That Will Land You a Job (Use This Example)

Example of a winning professional cover letter

So without further ado, here is the new example cover letter:

The position Jack is applying for remains the same as before. A job as Digital Marketing Manager for Kneebook Ltd that he found an ad for when looking for jobs in Manchester.

As with the previous letter, Jack asks his friend in recruitment to look it over for him first before sending it off.

Here's his new example cover letter.

This time, the things he did right have been highlighted.


Jack Jones
23 Alton Close
Manchester, M2 8YQ
Tel: 07700 900222
Email: jack.jones@email.com {1}

15 March 20XX

Jane Williams
Head of Human Resources
Kneebook Ltd
24 Birdbrook Road
Manchester, M22 9GD {2}

Dear Ms. Jane Williams,

I am writing to apply for the position of Digital Marketing Manager (Reference Code AB1234) at Kneebook Ltd, as advertised on the Jobted website on March 10. {3}

I am an organized and flexible professional with a strong passion for Digital Marketing who always keeps up with the latest industry developments via Moz and HubSpot {4} - all of which were indicated in your advertisement as priority requirements for the position in question. {5}

As you can see from my attached CV {6}, I have had the opportunity to broaden my skills and knowledge through experiences in similar roles.

After 2 years at the Communications Office of Marketing & Friends, I have for the last four year been Marketing Manager at Marketing & Sons where I have full responsibility and decision-making authority for all phases of the marketing process, in addition to managing a team of 5 people. {7}

Joining Kneebook Ltd would be an excellent opportunity for me to contribute to developing and consolidating the company's online presence as well as to broaden my professional and personal skills in a stimulating environment. {8}

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to discussing my application further with you and am available for an interview at your earliest convenience. {9}

Yours Sincerely,

Jack Jones
07700 900222
jack.jones@email.com {10}


Jack's helpful friend in recruitment has highlighted the aspects of the letter that make this one a winning cover letter.

He also told him to make sure he knew what he'd done right as he doesn't want to have to look at any more letters 😉

Detailed Anatomy of a Good Cover Letter

Positive example of effective cover letter

Let's look at this second letter step-by-step:

  • {1} Jack Jones
    23 Alton Close
    Manchester, M2 8YQ
    Tel: 07700 900222
    Email: jack.jones@email.com

The contact details are correct and complete and the email address is perfect - simple and professional.

  • {2} Jane Williams
    Head of Human Resources
    Kneebook Ltd
    24 Birdbrook Road
    Manchester, M22 9GD

This time, Jack has done his homework. He investigated the company further and was able to find the name of the right contact for his letter. He's also personalized it further by adding the date.

  • {3} the position of Digital Marketing Manager (Reference Code AB1234) at Kneebook Ltd, as advertised on the Jobted website on March 10.

Perfect. Jack has included all the details needed to make it clear to the selector which position at the company he is interested in. These are:

  1. Title of the advertised position
  2. The job reference code
  3. The name of the company advertising the position
  4. Where he saw the position advertised
  5. The date on which he saw the position advertised

If this was a cover letter for a speculative application, the details of the vacancy would obviously be missing, but there would be an indication of the type of role the candidate was interested in. Sending off an application - whether in response to an advertised vacancy or on a speculative basis - without either of these elements is a waste of time and will get your CV binned.

Example of speculative cover letter

  • {4} I am an organized and flexible professional with a strong passion for Digital Marketing who always keeps up with the latest industry developments via Moz and HubSpot

Jack has now put the key strengths on which he wants to focus to help him stand out from the crowd in his first paragraph. He uses the space at his disposal to draw attention to his best qualities only.

  • {5} all of which were indicated as priority requirements for the position in question.

Jack doesn't beat about the bush here. He clearly underlines the fit between his key qualities and the company's requirements indicated in the job advertisement.

  • {6} As you can see from my attached CV

A polite call to action. Jack doesn't say “Read my CV now!”, but instead, gently suggests that the selector might wish to read it. The words are different, but the goal is exactly the same.

  • {7} After 2 years at the Communications Office of Marketing & Friends, I have for the last four years been Marketing Manager at Marketing & Sons where I have full responsibility and decision-making authority for all phases of the marketing process, in addition to managing a team of 5 people.

Jack briefly sums up his past work experience. This works perfectly because he includes relevant experience that could strongly influence the selector's evaluation, furnishing only a few key details:

  • The role he filled
  • The company he worked at
  • The duration of the position

In addition - but only for the most recent experience, which is the most important - Jack decides to provide some more details, which he keeps concise and relevant.

If you are writing a cover letter and have no work experience, you could use this paragraph to provide key details about your educational background. After all, if you've never had a job, your main strengths are going to be connected with what you studied!

List of useful writing tips for cover letter

  • {8} an excellent opportunity for me to contribute to developing and consolidating the company's online presence as well as to broaden my professional and personal skills in a stimulating environment.

Jack hasn't forgotten his mistake and has switched perspective. He now places the emphasis on what the company can expect from him and the benefits hiring him would bring, and only mentions what he stands to get out of it at the end of the paragraph.

  • {9} Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to discussing my application further with you and am available for an interview at your earliest convenience.

A cover letter needs to end with a call to action. Jack already included a polite one about halfway through, when he invited the selector to read his CV. Now though, he cuts to the chase, in the hope of getting called back by the selector and perhaps of securing an interview. He also hasn't forgotten his manners and closes the letter using a standard salutation.

  • {10} Jack Jones
    07700 900222
    jack.jones@email.com

Having read the letter through to the end, the selector decides he would really quite like to call our hero. As luck would have it, Jack's contact details are staring him in the face, meaning the selector can phone him straight away. Smart move from Jack, who makes it easy for the selector to call (or email) him!

So now we've seen the second example cover letter.

Jack is pleased because finally he can send off his cover letter!

But before doing that - and because he's a prudent sort of fellow - he draws up a list of his ten top tips for writing a cover letter...

The Ten-Point Checklist That Will Improve Your Cover Letter

Writing a professional motivation letter

  1. Contact details professional and complete
  2. Recipient specified / letter personalized
  3. Position applied for specified
  4. Strengths highlighted
  5. Fit highlighted between job advertisement and personal skills and competencies
  6. Call to action made with regard to CV
  7. Previous work experience detailed based on relevance
  8. Focus on company's perspective
  9. Thanks and call to action to close the letter
  10. Contact details repeated at end of cover letter

As you can see, Jack's cover letter has been transformed. Now it's targeted, concise and professional. In other words, it's a winner.

An excellent example to follow!

Now it's your turn!

Example of a cover letter

So, over to you:

You've seen an example of a winning cover letter, as well as one showing what not to do.

But these are only examples.

Your job now is to turn them into a cover letter that will make people sit up and take notice!

And remember:

The cover letter is only half the job.

You need to make sure you apply the same care and attention to writing your CV!

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