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 a company, demonstrate your interest and motivation in, both, the role and the company, highlight how you meet their criteria and emphasise your strengths.

Always take the opportunity to submit a cover letter if you are given the chance. A cover letter gives you an opportunity to tell a story highlighting relevant information rather than listing all your experience from your CV and helps to align your professional values with the values of an organisation.

Top tips

Presentation

  • Whilst there is no set guidelines in terms of style, we suggest using a 1 page cover letter. Apply positive and professional language, choice of words and expectations and convey your enthusiasm about the company and role.
  • Pay particular attention to grammar, typing and spelling and ensure your cover letter was checked by someone before you send it employers.
  • Put your customised LinkedIn URL after your signature at the bottom of the cover letter.
  • If sending the cover letter as an email, make sure to utilise the subject line fully: e.g. Job Application - HR Assistant - 2:1 HR degree finalist with practical HR work experience.
  • Your cover letter should be written 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, correct spelling and accurate title.

Content

  • Write your cover letter like a business letter and avoid exceeding 1 page (A4 format).
  • Introduce yourself and explain why you are applying for this job, if you are responding to an advertisement, mention where you saw it.
  • Based on a job description, tell employers why you are a suitable candidate for this position. You can refer back to you CV, however, it is not advisable to use the same phrasing as in your CV.
  • Tell employers why you are interested in this role and company. Researching the company can facilitate you in explaining your motivation and aligning your professional values to the values of the company.
  • Finish your cover letter by reiterating your desire to join the organisation and end on a ‘look forward to hearing from you’ statement.

Tailoring

  • A cover letter will yield the best results if it is targeted to “match” a specific job specification. Mass produced cover letters do not receive as favourable a response as ones that are targeted to the role you are applying for.
  • Show what you can do for the reader; keep the focus on your qualifications and skills and how they match the job spec. 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.