How to write your cover letter

Advice on what to include in your CV and how to structure it.

Cover letters are not an exact science, but you need to sound like you want the job and you can show why you would be a good fit for it. Employers can tell when you haven't given much thought to why you are applying. This is your opportunity to show your motivation and suitability - so take it! 


Top Tips: Cover Letters

What to include 

Your cover letter complements your CV and gives you the chance to demonstrate your motivation and suitability for the job.  Your cover letter should answer three questions: 

  • why do you want this job? 

  • why do you want to work for this organisation? 

  • why are you right for the role? 

Use the cover letter to highlight information you need the employer to know, and to explain anything such as extenuating circumstances which you want them to take into account.  

You should: 

  • demonstrate that you have researched the organisation  

  • evidence how you have the skills and experience listed in the vacancy 

  • aim for one page in length with about three to five concise paragraphs.

Watch the recording above to find out more about how to write your cover letter.

To explore examples of cover letters, access Careers Service Plus (University of Edinburgh login required):

Cover letters examples 


Using generative AI to create your cover letter

Technologies such as ChatGPT can provide a reasonable basic structure for you to build upon, but what they give you is unlikely to be tailored convincingly and will be bland and generic, and unlikely to impress employers. Use them as a support and starting point if you like - but edit their product to make the end result your own.  

Remember these points:

  • adapt the content generated, to make it more closely related to you -otherwise it will lack impact
  • be cautious about submitting any personal data, as whatever you put in could be in the public domain 
  • you may be risking plagiarism, as these systems incorporate, in their output, content produced by other people without acknowledging or referencing them 

Guidance on using AI has been produced by the Bayes Centre at the University of Edinburgh. 

AI guidance for staff and students