Cover letters


A guide to CVs, cover letters, and application forms

A free guide, written by the LSE careers consultants and available only to LSE students. Come to the LSE Careers resource centre (5th Floor, Saw Swee Hock Student Centre) to pick up your free copy. You can also download a PDF of the booklet.

Cover letter structure

Non-speculative applications

Introduction (paragraph 1)

  • Who are you i.e. what are you currently studying
  • Where you saw the job advertised 
  • Title of the job

Competence  (paragraph 2) - what do you offer?

  • Highlight skills related to relevant experience 
  • Include 2 or 3 key selling points which should be relevant to the job and evidenced by the CV
  • Generate interest

Motivation (paragraph 3) - why you want to job?

  • Show focus and knowledge, refer to the main points on the job description
    prove interest
  • Demonstrate why you want to work for the organisation
  • Explain why the job appeals
  • Write about why the sector appeals
  • Use proof of your interest using examples i.e. from extra study, extra curricular activities and jobs

Ending (paragraph 4)

  • Positive close and goodbye

Speculative applications

Introduction (paragraph 1)

  • Who you are
  • Why are you writing
  • Specify the type of work you are looking for
  • Why you want to work for the organisation

Say why you are looking for this type of work  (paragraph 2)

  • Show focus and knowledge of the work and sector
  • Prove interest

Say what you have to offer (paragraph 3)

  • Highlight skills and relevant experience referring to your CV
  • Include 2 or 3 key selling points which should be relevant to the job

Round up (paragraph 4)

  • Restate your interest and suitability for the type of work
  • Show enthusiasm by informing the employer that you will follow up the letter with a phone call


Cover letter rules

When writing your cover you should always try and follow these rules:

  • Target your cover letter to each position and employer
  • Between 200 and 400 words, no more than 1 page in length
  • Short sentences, 14 words per sentences
  • Be concise
  • Don't repeat the entire content of your CV
  • Never include information that is not in your CV 
  • Check for spelling and grammatical errors
  • Follow business letter protocol
    • Dear Sir/Madam...Yours faithfully
    • Dear Ms Smith...Yours sincerely


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