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Impactful cover letters
A well-written cover letter will make employers pay attention. Find out how to write yours with our guide.
What you will learn
- What a Cover Letter is
- How to create a letter that aligns with the job role
- How to structure your letter and what to include
- Five things to check before you send it
What is a cover letter?
Sent along with your CV or application when you apply for a job, a cover letter is a chance to introduce yourself and showcase your personality.
It’s where you can describe in more detail:
- Who you are
- What you’re like
- What you can bring to the role
It’s chance to sell yourself as the person who’s right for the job. We know it can be difficult to write about yourself, so we’ve got some tips to help you start telling your story.
Creating a letter that aligns with the job role
There’s no one-size-fits-all job cover letter. Every employer and industry is different - and that’s why personalising yours to fit each application is important.
The first thing to do is examine the job advert, and think about how you can insert what they’re asking you into your cover letter. Here’s how.
Are they looking for communication skills? Do they need you to be great at maths? Do they want a good people manager? Examine what skills they’re looking for to reflect this in your Cover Letter.
Which qualifications and work experience have they asked for? Try and summarise this to highlight that you have what they are looking for.
What sort of person are they looking for? Have they mentioned things like being good with people or ambitious? Be sure to highlight these qualities in yourself.
Information on the company:
You could also check their website and social media accounts. If you see anything in particular that has attracted you to the role, this is a great way of highlighting how you’d fit into the company.
These details help you tailor your cover letter, so that you stand out. When you start writing, highlight some of the skills and experience that they’ve mentioned to show how you fit the bill. Think about what you can tell them about yourself – which parts of your career so far will they be most interested in?
What to include in your letter?
Include a line or heading at the top of your letter, which states the role you want to apply for and any reference number from the job description. This makes it easier for the reader – the company might be recruiting for more than one job at the same time.
You should mention:
- Where you heard about the role
- The job role you’re applying for
- Any other documents you’ve attached (for example your CV or application)
Note: If you’re sending a speculative cover letter and CV for a job that’s not advertised, you won’t be referring to a specific role. Instead, use this space to talk about what kind of position you’re interested in.
Why you’re interested
First, outline why you are interested in the role and the organisation – research the employer and explain how the role fits into your career plans.
What you have to offer
Then highlight the skills and experience you have that relate to this role using the requirements outlined in the job description. Use the same language as the employer so that they can spot it easily. If they’ve got a lot of applications, this will make it easier for them to pull out the important information.
You could use a statement along the lines of ‘There are three key reasons to consider my application’, and then list those reasons with a short explanation of each.
Address the gaps
If you have gaps in your CV, or you’re making a career change, you might want to use an extra paragraph here to explain.
End positively. Say that you look forward to hearing from them and hope to discuss the role further. It’s also worth mentioning any dates you won’t be available for interview.
If you do manage to address your letter to a particular person, you should sign it off with ‘yours sincerely’. If you’ve had to insert ‘sir/madam’ instead, you should end with ‘yours faithfully’.
Sending your application by email
If you're sending your application by email be sure to check the application guidelines for any instructions. Some employers maybe prefer you to send your application as an attachment and some may not accept attachments - so always double check.
You should attach both your CV and cover letter but don't leave the body of the email blank. This could cause confusion and your application may be missed. Write a brief message to let the employer know you've attached your CV and cover letter along with the details of the role you're applying for. You should also include the role information in the subject line.
Style a signature for yourself including your name, address, phone number and email (just a reminder – make sure it’s an appropriate email address!) You could also add links such as your LinkedIn profile, or your Twitter handle if you use this professionally.
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