How To Write A Great Cover Letter

Think of your cover letter as the packaging for your CV. You wouldn't be all too convinced about the quality of a parcel's contents if the branding was shoddy would you? The same should go for your cover letter. 

Don't let yourself down; ensure you take your time and put the effort in early on!

Why is a cover letter important? 

Your cover letter serves a number of purposes:

● it's a chance for you to demonstrate your writing style 
● it allows you to flesh out your CV - include any relevant skills otherwise not mentioned 
● it's an opportunity to show off your knowledge about the company 

The aim is to set out the reasons that you and the employer are perfect for each other. Think of it like a love letter, but without the cheesiness. (Hopefully). 

How do I go about writing one?

● Read the job description properly and carefully. 

One way that some companies filter cover letters is by using a computer that highlights certain words - if the words used in your letter match some of those of the job description, it will automatically be placed into the 'short list pile'. As a result, it is VERY important that your cover letter matches the job description where possible. If, for example, the company is looking for someone who is computer literate, confident and has strong analytical skills you need to make sure that you make reference to one, or all of these skills (if relevant).

 ● Do your research.

The one thing that grads often fall down on is a lack of research into the company they are applying for, particularly at interview stage. However, if done well this could be the difference between getting the job and not. We've put together some handy tips on how best to go about this here.

Bear in mind that this is as much an opportunity for you to find out if the company suits you as it is the other way round. You may feel as though this job is your only option, but what would be worse - ending up in a job you don't like, or waiting a little longer till the right one comes along. We think the latter.

 ● Focus on specifics.

If the company is looking for someone with a competitive edge and leadership potential, then instead of simply stating that you possess both of these - demonstrate why, preferably with tangible evidence. 

For example, "Whilst at university I was president of the football team in which I chaired weekly meetings and increased society membership from 30 to 65"

In this sentence alone you have demonstrated leadership qualities, the ability to communicate and your powers of persuasion. Not only this but you have also given the employer substantial evidence to back up your claims! 

Likewise, if the job spec details some of the specifics about the role, pick up on them - for example, "the fact that your grad scheme provides the opportunity to specialise early on is something that really appeals to me".

 ● Tailor your tone.

The tone of the job spec is likely to reflect that of the company as a whole. Whether it is formal and professional or laidback and light-hearted - make sure that your cover letter mirrors it.

Format and layout

A clear structure is essential. You will want the employer to be able to see exactly what you are offering.

Break down your different points into easy to glean paragraphs. Always address it personally where possible and if in doubt then 'Dear Sir/Madam' is perfectly fine. 

It is widely agreed that the following structure is best:
Paragraph 1 - Introduction. 
Paragraph 2 - Why you?
Paragraph 3 - Why them?
Paragraph 4 - Thank you 

Make sure to sign off with Yours Sincerely (if you know the person's name) or Yours Faithfully (if you don't know the person's name). 

We've put together a cover letter template for you, just to make things easier.


The employer will want to know the following things - 

● Who you are and what job you want.

● What relevant skills you have and how you can apply them.

● Do you understand what is required of you?
     - have you read the job spec thoroughly?
     - will you be a cultural fit?

● Do you have a positive and professional attitude? 
     - this should come through in your tone of voice. 

● Are you concise, business like and professional?
     - this should come across in the way in which you present your application as a whole.

● Finally, do you really want the job?
     - how much effort did you put into the application? The best recruiters will be able to tell!

N.B - Don't forget to include other skills such as your proficiency with Photoshop or the fact that you are a talented musician, etc. Even if you're just experimenting or trying a new hobby - mention it, because it will demonstrate that you are an interesting and ambitious individual

A well written cover letter will connect your skills and qualifications with those requested by the role. Although it may be tempting, it's probably best not to apply for roles that you know you are not qualified for; it'll be a wasted effort. Far better to focus your energies on a job that really could be yours! 

We hope this has been helpful. Just remember that an uninspiring cover letter will only increase the risk of your CV not being read and this is only the first hurdle. The next stage will be the interview, so here are some classic questions you are bound to get asked and advice on how to answer them:

Classic Interview Questions: Part I
Classic Interview Questions: Part 2
Classic Interview Questions: Part 3


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