Writing a Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter can seem like a daunting prospect. It can be confusing to figure out what you should and shouldn’t write about. What key points should you highlight? Is it too long or too short?

But cover letter’s should be seen as a great opportunity to demonstrate how much you want the position and how you can prove that you’ve got the skills to do it.

Several elements need to be included in any cover letter. Learn how to write one cover letter properly and you’ll be able to do it again for any new job applications that you might make.

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a 1–2-page document that is submitted as part of a job application (alongside your CV) A standard cover letter should be approx. 250 – 400 words long. It is a supplement to your CV so shouldn’t repeat everything you’ve mentioned there.

Its purpose is to introduce you and summarise your professional background. A good cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and get them to read your CV.

You don’t have to be creative or a master at writing. All you need to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:

• Greeting the hiring manager

• Opening paragraph – Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements

• Second paragraph – Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job

• Third paragraph – Explain why you’re a good match for the company

• Formal closing

Before You Begin

Before you start writing your cover letter, it’s vital that you do some research. Reading the job description is essential but we recommended you delve further into the position and the company you’ve applied to. Find out who the hiring manager is, and investigate more about the organisation, its culture, and the industry it operates in.

Writing Your Cover Letter

Greeting the hiring manager

When writing your cover letter aim to keep it brief, while making sure it emphasises your suitability for the job.

Start by addressing the hiring manager. If you don’t know their name or have been unable to find this out, there are a few other greetings you could use:

• Dear [Department] Hiring Manager

• Dear Hiring Manager

• To whom it may concern

• Dear [Department] Team

Opening paragraph

Your opening statement should set out why you’re writing the letter whilst trying to grab the reader’s attention. Begin by stating the position you’re applying for and mentioning 2-3 of your top achievements which apply to the role. Don’t forget to use numbers and facts to back up this experience.

Second paragraph

Continue into the second paragraph by highlighting the core requirements of the role and demonstrate how your relevant experience meets these. Summarise any additional strengths and explain how bringing these to the role could benefit the company. Remember; don’t cover everything in your CV, this creates the impression that you are repeating yourself.

Third paragraph

Discuss what attracted you to this type of work and why you’re interested in working for the company. This is a good opportunity to show off your knowledge of the company. Think about identifying the top 3 things that you like about the company and avoid generic reasons as to why you’re interested in working for them.

Formal closing

Use this closing paragraph to round up your letter. Reiterate your interest in the role and indicate your desire for an interview. Now is the time to mention any dates you’re unavailable.

In most cases end you should end your letter with “Yours faithfully” and then your name. Alternatively, you could use:

• Best Regards

• Kind Regards

• Sincerely

• Thank you

Review Your Cover Letter

With your letter complete, you should read it through and cut out any unnecessary words and sentences. If a paragraph or sentence sounds long-winded, think about other ways you could word it. Try to avoid repetition and, it should go without saying, to triple check for spelling errors (we recommend installing Grammarly to your device.)

It’s also worthwhile asking someone in your family or a friend to cast an eye over your cover letter to check that it reads correctly and clearly. They’ll also be useful in spotting any errors you missed.

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Remember that your cover letter is the first thing that a potential employer will look at when considering your application. Dedicate the time and effort into getting it right and you will have taken your first step towards a new job! If you need help with your CV, take a look at how to write a CV.

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