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Impactful cover letters
A well-written cover letter will make employers pay attention. Find out how to write yours.
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?
A cover letter is usually sent along with your CV or application when you apply for a job. It gives you a chance to introduce yourself and showcase your personality and sell yourself as the person who’s right for the job.
In a cover letter, you would typically share some details on:
- Who you are
- What you’re like
- What you can bring to the role
We know it can be difficult to write about yourself, so we’ve got some tips to help you get started.
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 employer, as the company might be recruiting for more than one job at the same time.
You should mention:
- The job you’re applying for
- Where you heard about the role
- Any documents you’re sending with the cover letter (for example your CV or application)
Note: You may be sending a speculative cover letter and CV because you've found a company you'd like to work for, which doesn't have a job advertised. In this case you won’t be referring to a specific role, so use this space to talk about what kind of position you would be interested in.
Why you’re interested
Explain why you are interested in the job and the organisation, and explain how the role fits into your career plans.
What you have to offer
Explain which skills and experience you have that relate to this role. Using the same language as the employer uses in the job description can help. If they’ve received a lot of applications, this will make it easier for them to spot that you meet their requirements.
Try using 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 a couple of sentences 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 have addressed your cover letter to a particular person, you should sign it off with ‘yours sincerely’. If you’ve had to insert ‘sir/madam’ instead of a name, you should end with ‘yours faithfully’.
Create 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.
By tailoring your cover letter you can highlight some of the skills and experience that they’ve mentioned in the job description to show how you fit the bill and stand out from other applicants. Think about what you can tell them about yourself and what can you bring to the role.
Examine the job advert, and think about qualities you have that the employer is looking for. Here are some attributes that are ideal to showcase in a cover letter.
Are they looking for great communication skills? Do they need you to be good at maths, or a whiz with Microsoft Office? Do they want a good people manager? Use your cover letter to describe the skills you have, and how you can bring them to the job.
Your CV will list the work, eduction and volunteering experience you have, but you can sum up the most relevant parts of those experiences in your cover letter too. It helps to reassure the employer 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? Talk about the qualities you have that make you the right fit for the role.
Information on the company:
One great way to show how keen you are is to check the company's 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.
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.
Create a signature for yourself including your name, address, phone number and email (just a reminder – make sure it’s an appropriate email address!) You can also add links such as your LinkedIn profile, or your Twitter handle if you use this professionally.
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