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Set for Success: How to write a great cover letter

After hours of working on your CV or filling in website application forms, the idea of writing a cover letter can feel overwhelming. Instead of letting it feel like a chore, remember that your cover letter is your moment to shine. Follow our top tips on how to write a great cover letter to make sure you stand out from the crowd.

By Cara Fielder. Published 07 July..

Do I need to include a cover letter?

Most of the time, the answer to this is yes. Unless you are talking with recruiters or applying for a role via a LinkedIn application with no option to send one, you’ll want to include a cover letter.

What’s the point of a cover letter?

A cover letter gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself to the people filling the role and encourage them to read your CV. Sometimes jobs can receive hundreds of applications, and your cover letter is your chance to stand out from the other applicants.

How to write a cover letter

Think about your audience

Before writing, take a moment to consider who will be reading your cover letter and what their priorities are. Sometimes the things we want to say about ourselves aren’t the same as what an employer might need to know. Remember to prioritise your reader and their needs.

Structure

  • Introduction – Your first paragraph should include the role you are applying for and where you saw the role advertised.
  • First paragraph – Set out your skills and make sure to emphasise the skills requested in the job specifications.
  • Second paragraph – Delve a little deeper into your skills and highlight your major achievements.
  • Third paragraph – Share why you would be perfect for the role and what drew you to the position and company.
  • Last paragraph – Use this to reiterate your interest in the role and your availability to interview.

As your cover letter will be in competition with lots of others, you need to make it clear, concise and grabbing.

Show your research

Employers want to know you can do the job, but they also want to know that you will fit into their company culture. The best way of doing this is by researching the company and referring to incidents/procedures/statements that resonate with you in your cover letter. Were they involved in a case that inspired you? Or maybe the company does a lot to support LGBTQ+ rights both internally and externally. Whatever draws you to the company, make sure you let them know about it.

Tick their boxes

We mentioned it briefly earlier, but make sure you’ve read that job description carefully because it’s the perfect guide to what you need to include in your cover letter. Make sure to include your experience in the skills they need in a clear way, you’ll tick all their boxes.

Overall top tips

Address a specific person if possible – You can ask a recruiter in advance of applying or you can see who’s posting the job on LinkedIn and address it to them.

Short, sharp and snappy – This is not a work autobiography where you should be including every experience you have. Keep it relevant and clear to stop losing readers in the detail.

Edit and proofread – Edit to cut down on unnecessary words and for clarity and proofread to ensure you haven’t made any grammatical mistakes. Sometimes it can be hard to see your own mistakes, especially when you’ve worked on something for a long time. To help sport mistakes, you can read it backwards to stop yourself from predicting what you’ll see next. This allows you to focus on each word individually. Also, get someone else involved if you can, an extra set of eyes never hurts.

File name – Don’t even think of saving your document as ‘cover letter’ and sending it off. Imagine how many of these job posters receive and therefore how easily it could be misplaced. Include your full name in the file name so it can be easily searched for.

Make achievements measurable – Making your achievements measurable increases their impact and allows you to have a boast in the best possible way.

 

Our Employability Team can help you optimise your CV and help you prepare for interviews. Book a session with them to learn more.