Professional advice and tips for students and graduates preparing effective cover letters.

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Introduction

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to the recruiter, sell your interest and motivation in the role and the company and to highlight how you meet their criteria.

We suggest that you always submit a cover letter with your CV. It gives you an opportunity to bring your CV to life and give more of an insight into you as a candidate and what attracts you to this role in this company.

Top tips

Presentation

  • The cover letter should be no more than one page. 
  • It should be addressed to a specific person; where possible do not address your cover letters to “Dear Sir or Madam.” Take the time to get an appropriate contact name and accurate title.
  • Put your customised LinkedIn URL after your signature at the bottom of the cover letter.
  • If sending the cover letter as an email, use the email subject line fully: e.g. Job Application - HR Assistant - 2:1 HR degree finalist with practical HR work experience. If saving it as a word document do not save it as cover letter – once again use the opportunity to grab their attention “Anna Annaville- 2:1 HR finalist – Cover letter for XX company”
  • Pay particular attention to grammar, typing and spelling and ensure your cover letter was checked by someone before you send it employers.

Content

  • Introduce yourself in the first paragraph and explain why you are applying for this job.
  • Do take the time to explain briefly why you are interested in this company and this role specifically. Include information that shows you have done some research and understand what the company does and what the job might involve. This makes it clear that you have not sent out the same cover letter to lots of different employers. It does require some effort- try to say something other than repeating sentences from their website.
  • Using the job description as a guide, tell employers why you are the perfect person for this role.
  • Finish your cover letter positively by reiterating your desire to join the organisation and end on a call to action or ‘look forward to hearing from you’ statement.

Tailoring

  • A cover letter will be far more effective if it is targeted to “match” a specific job specification. Sending the same generic cover letter to lots of companies is not effective.
  • Use the cover letter to highlight how you match the job they have advertised. The emphasis should be on what you can offer rather than placing emphasis on what you are hoping to gain.

Cover letter templates

You can view and download cover letter templates for your personal development.

Get instant feedback on your cover Letter 

 We have invested in Career Set a platform that uses AI to assess your Cover Letter and gives you immediate feedback to help you improve it. Upload your cover letter in PDF and Career Set will score your cover letter and give you targeted suggestions to help you improve it.  It will check for areas including salutations, length, word use and spelling. It will help you personalise your letter by highlighting relevant keywords and skills from a job description.

How to use CareerSet instant Cover letter feedback tool

  • Log in to careerset.com/NCIRL using your NCI student email address.
  • You will receive an authenticator link via email and clicking on this link will log you in for one session.
  • There are 3 offerings all of which require you to upload a pdf version of your CV or cover letter. 
    1. Score My CV: AI-powered CV scoring and personalised feedback related to Impact, Presentation and Style.
    2. Target My CV: Actionable feedback on tailoring a CV to a specific job description, based on keywords and skills.
    3. Cover Letter Feedback: Professional cover letter feedback and tailoring advice, including soft skills. 
  • Within 30 seconds you will receive individual feedback on the left hand side of the screen.
  • You can access CareerSet CV checker 24/7 365 days a year from any location and you can re-submit your CV as many times as you like to keep improving your CV score.
  • We recommend that you achieve a score of 70-75 and then show your CV to your Careers Advisor for further in person feedback.
  • One minute video explainer: https://vimeo.com/640045738

CareerSet is only available to current students using their NCIRL email address.

Remember: we are here to help! 

The NCI Careers team provides specialist support in reviewing and providing feedback on your cover letter. Once you have completed your cover letter, submitted it to Career Set for review and made the necessary changes then please do book an appointment with your Careers Advisor.