How to Write a Cover Letter

A cover letter is an essential part of almost every job application – the perfect partner to your CV. As much as they require work, they are a great way of fully explaining your skills and abilities to ultimately persuade the reader to want to meet you.

 

There’s a basic format for writing a cover letter that you can follow each time. However, every letter should be tailored to the specific role you are applying for, so make sure you do your research. What does the company do? What does the role involve? What are the essential skills? Once you have found the answers, you will be able to match up your strengths to satisfy the recruiter’s requirements.

 

Cover letters are intended to complement your CV, rather than duplicate the information. Typically, the general consensus is that shorter cover letters are more effective – they should not exceed one page of A4. Opt for an easy-to-read, professional font and keep it clear and concise, structuring it in carefully laid-out paragraphs as follows.  

 

Address Your Cover Letter

Just as you would write any other formal business letter, start with your address and contact details in the top right-hand corner. You should then follow with the address of the company you’re applying to and the date further down on the left-hand side. Leave a line before addressing your letter to the person who will be receiving it, ending the salutation with a comma. Be sure to find out the name of the recruiter when you do your company research because the small details such as this make all the difference. Refer to them using their formal title, be it Mr, Miss, Mrs, Ms or Dr, for example.

 

First Paragraph

This is where you mention the job, explaining why you’re getting in touch. Begin by stating the name of the position and where you saw it advertised. It only needs to be a couple of sentences in length.For example, I wish to apply for the role of IT Manager, currently being advertised on reed.co.uk Please find enclosed my CV for your consideration.

 

Second Paragraph

The second paragraph should be about you, covering why you’re suitable for the job, what attracted you to this type of work, why you’re interested in working for the company and what you can offer them. Briefly describe your professional and academic qualifications that are relevant to the role and ensure you refer to each of the skills listed in the job description. By explaining a bit more about the achievements listed in your CV, you can expand on what you have already written to mirror the requirements the recruiter is seeking in their candidate.

 

Third Paragraph

This is your opportunity to show your knowledge of the company and go into detail about why you want to work for them specifically. You should highlight relevant experience, including examples to back up your skills, and explain how you would be able to help the company and add to their success.

 

Fourth Paragraph

The final paragraph is where you reiterate your interest in the role, sum up your letter and emphasis why you’re the right fit for the job. It’s also a good idea to talk about how you’ll proceed with the application, indicating that you’d like to meet with the employer for an interview, before thanking them for their time and signing off.

 

Close Your Cover Letter

Sign off your cover letter with ‘Yours sincerely’ (assuming you know the name of the recruiter). If you do not know their name (which is not ideal), you can close with ‘Yours faithfully’, followed by your full name on the line below.

 

Final Thought

With employers receiving many applications for a single vacancy, you need to ensure that your cover letter makes a lasting impression for all the right reasons. To increase your chances of success, never rely on a computer spellcheck programme to pick up any mistakes. Print it off to double-check for spelling or grammatical errors, paying particular attention to your own contact details. Just imagine if they were incorrect and the company could not get hold of you to tell you the good news!