Writing a Cover Letter

Learn how to write a cover letter or motivational letter. Check different parts of the cover letter and its importance in helping you getting hired

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter, also commonly called as motivational letter, is a type of a formal letter that accompanies the curriculum vitae to apply for a position in an organization. It is a short document that portrays the capabilities of a person for a particular job that catches eye of the employer. It is the first communication between a potential candidate and employers. A good cover letter entices the employers to read the resume.

What are the types of cover letters?

The cover letter may be categorized into two major classes.

  • Invited cover letters that people write to apply for a particular position in a company
  • Uninvited cover letter to ask for availability of suitable jobs in an organization.

What is the purpose of cover letter?

The purpose of the cover letter is to persuade the employer to hire the person for a specific job. It must focus on the skills required for the job and the justification for being suitable for the job. Experienced employers use cover letters to screen the people who are willing to do the job. Cover letter plays a key role in convincing hiring authorities to induct their desired persons.

What is the effect of cover letter on an employer?

Your cover letter must have following effects on the hiring person:

  • It should provide the employer with the goals and objectives of your career
  • The employer should pay attention to your unique, attractive and most desired for the position under consideration

What are the parts of cover letter?

The cover letter may be divided into following parts.

  • Header of cover letter is very much similar to that of a business letter. It contains sender address, contact information, recipient’s address, recipient’s contact information, date on which letter was sent. It may also contain reference section that may refer to some other letter. Header ends with a formal salutation.
  • Introduction focuses on the position you are applying for, some information about the company and source that initiated your application.
  • The body of cover letter highlights the material in your resume. It includes the skills, past experience and educational qualifications. It may include your unique abilities that distinguish you from other applicants to persuade the employer to hire you.
  • The Closing of cover letter summarizes the cover letter. Applicant may request early reply to his application and indirectly asks, in polite words, the employer to hear positive response. The signature of the applicant may be provided at the end.

What are the tips for writing good cover letters?

Some key points must be kept in mind while writing cover letters as mentioned below:

  • Cover letter must be simple, clear and concise so that employer finds his required skills in just a glimpse. Writing flowery phrases puts a negative impact on the hiring authorities
  • Highlight the necessary skills required for the job and don’t try to impose them. Mention your abilities and experience accordingly that fits the job
  • Research about the company and show interest in the specific field you are applying for
  • The language must be polite. The words must not reflect desperate or aggressive behavior
  • Don’t copy/paste the same cover letter for every job since each job has different requirements
  • Mention briefly about how you heard for the job opening like newspaper or social media
  • Pair your qualities with the keywords given in the job advertisement and try to highlight those qualities as much as possible
  • Don’t exaggerate in explaining your abilities
  • Try to complement the skills in resume instead of duplicating them
  • Justify your suitability for the job by convincing employer with your motivation, education, experience and skills
  • The cover letter must be the trailer of the resume that would persuade the employer to read your CV in detail
  • Cover letter must be brief and to the point. Keep its length to maximum one page
  • Request an interview in cover letter
  • Make sure that cover letter is free from grammatical and typographical mistakes as they put negative impact on the employer
  • Write cover letter in font large enough to be easily read by the employer
  • Read the cover letter twice or thrice when it is complete and try to analyze it from the point of view of the employer

What are the major mistakes while writing cover letters?

There are some mistakes that are commonly made while writing cover letters. Some of the suggestions to avoid mistakes are as follows.

  • Using humorous language in cover letter which shows non professional attitude
  • Including irrelevant experiences from other jobs
  • Mistakes in format
  • Including such qualifications that are missing from your resume
  • Including stories and dialogues of others
  • Losing flow in your arguments. The sentences must be connected
  • Not skipping the details that may be obvious for the employer
  • Being over formal that may lead to boredom while reading
  • Using general salutations like “Respected sir/madam”. Be sure about the employer to whom you are addressing
  • Sending the same cover letter to all companies
  • Focusing too much on your own abilities. Try to mention how you would be beneficial for the company
  • Forgetting to include your contact information so that your employer may contact you at any time
  • Forgetting to attach a resume with cover letter is a big mistake
  • Showing desperation in cover letter
  • Including photos in cover letter

Sample Cover Letter

Sarmad Mir

House#XYZ, Street#XY, Islamabad, Pakistan


April 10, 2013.

Dr. Ahmed Kamal

Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering

University of Engineering and Technology Lahore


Dear Dr. Kamal,

I am interested and willing for the job of research assistant that you advertised on UET Lahore website some days ago. I have enclosed my resume for you to review. Considering my qualifications and experience, I would like to hear positive response from you in this regard. I can safely say that I am best suited to this job opportunity in the light of following reasons.

  • I have experience of working as an intern in a research institute and had a publication during that period that satisfies your requirement of working experience. 
  • I had publications in IEEE related to robust passive control of time delay systems. Your criteria demands research related to optimal control techniques and this is quite similar to robust passive control.
  • I have been member of ACM society in UET Lahore and quite good in team management and organizing research-based events that would suite your demands.

I would really appreciate your going through my credentials deeply. Thank you very much for your kind consideration.


Sarmad Mir (signature)


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