How To Write a Cover Letter

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Writing a "cover letter" or "covering letter" can be difficult, particularly if you have no professional letter writing experience. To create a successful cover letter you will need to:

  • Thoroughly research the company you wish to apply to;
  • Consider why you want to make an application to this company and for this position; and,
  • Spend a good deal of time writing, editing and fine tuning your letter.

Your letter must be engaging, be written specifically for the company applied to, sell yourself and effectively communicate your message. The more effort you are able to put in to your cover letter, the more likely you are to be offered an interview.

Writing Your Covering Letter

Great covering letters are written with passion, enthusiasm and market the candidate (you) specifically to the employer, in terms of the skills, qualities and competencies the employer is looking for. To get a recruiter’s attention, you must set yourself apart from other candidates.

Below you will find an effective graduate and post-graduate level covering letter writing structure. Use this to help you when writing your covering letters, but remember: the best covering letters do not follow the rules or a formulaic template. A great covering letter will be unique to you and your specific application.

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Covering Letter Template Structure

Your address Line 1 Address line 2 Postcode Email: Telephone: 00000 000 000

Name of recruiter [First name and last name] Always address your cover letter to a specific person – it is much more professional, and in doing so you can be much more certain that your application will be delivered to the right person Job title of your recruiter Company name Address line 1 Address line 2 Postcode

Date [day month year, (e.g. 17 January 2009)]

Dear Mr/Ms/Mrs. [Surname]

Your Job Title and Reference (if applicable, e.g. "Graduate Trainee - Audit/3889")

  • (1) Introduction

Introduce yourself to the recruiter. Explain who you are, (e.g. My name is Sam Sanders and I am currently studying for a BA in Geography at the University of Manchester) and why are you writing to the company/organisation. Make sure you point out where you found details of the vacancy you are applying for and if appropriate, mention that you have enclosed your CV.

  • (2) Why job/why industry?

Explain that you are interested in the job role applied for and industry applied to. Explain what draws you to the job and industry, when you first became interested in them and why you are interested. In this paragraph you could also explain why you think you are suitable for this type of industry/job role. It is important to use this paragraph to engage with recruiters. You need to sound motivated and extremely interested in the job or graduate scheme you are applying for.

  • (3) Why Company?

Explain your interest in the company or organisation you are applying to. Explain why you have applied to them specifically; mention what sets them apart from their competitors. It is important to make it clear you have done your research, and understand the role you are applying for, the company culture, what the company are looking for, and that your skills and competencies match those sought by the company.

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  • (4) Why You?

In the final paragraph of your cover letter you must really sell yourself. Explain your relevant skills, competencies and experience in detail and discuss why these would all be of great use to the company or for the job role applied for. You need to tick the recruiter’s boxes and make it clear you can add value to an organisation. Be positive, be engaging and be enthusiastic. Try not to sound arrogant or exaggerate too much, if you are invited to interview you will have to back up any statements you make here!

  • (5) Conclusion

Your covering letter conclusion needs to be sharp. Do not close with the phrase “I look forward to hearing from you” because this is an open invitation to your prospective employer to write back and say “thanks, but no thanks”. State that “I look forward to discussing my application with you in further detail” or “I look forward to discussing my skills, competencies and values in greater detail”. For smaller organisations, it can sometimes be useful to state when you are free for interview, or dates when you are not available, booked holidays for example.

  • (6) Yours sincerely/signature

Always end your covering letter with "Yours sincerely" if you have addressed it to a named contact (e.g. Mr. Adam Smith) or with "Yours faithfully" if you have not addressed it to anyone specific.

Remember that the purpose of a cover letter is to pitch yourself to an employer; you must be positive and engaging throughout and try to lead your recruiter to want to call you right now to invite you for interview.