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Writing a Cover Letter

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Cover Letters are a crucial factor in applying for, and gaining employment; they are usually sent to prospective employers with a CV, adding to any details left out of the CV and giving a more personal touch to the application.

The basic layout of a professional cover letter includes:

  • Contact information for the applicant should be given at the top, followed by personal information such as address, email and phone number.
  • The date should then be given.
  • There should then be the prospective employers name and address.
  • Formalities such as “Dear Mr/Mrs” should then start the body of the cover letter (if known, DO give the name of the person you are writing to, as it will make for a more personal read).
  • First section: Here, the main point of writing to the company should be given, letting them know the position you applying for and that you would like to be considered for an interview. Also, give a brief background of yourself, i.e. where you have just finished studying, or the job you are currently in.
  • Second section: This is where you give the skills, qualities and experience you have that will help in the job you are applying for. Do this in an enthusiastic manner, to show you have a real passion for whatever the job role is. Make sure to link the skills and experience you have from past jobs to the job/person specification they have given in their advert.  This is not simply repeating your CV but rather giving evidence of skills you have that make you suitable for the job advertised.
  • Final Section: Thank the employer for their time in reading your cover letter, and let them know if your CV is attached, if not, when they will be receiving it.
  • End on a comment such as “Respectfully yours”, with your signature or name (dependant on whether cover letter is sent online or through the post).

Cover letters are often not thought of by job hunters, choosing to send just their CV instead, however, they are very important as they form the prospective employers first impression of you and can help you to stand out from possibly a large crowd of applicants. There is also often the mistake made of simply writing out one cover letter and sending it out to all companies or employers; if this is the case it will most likely be obvious and the company will see that no effort has been made. A good covering letter will show that you have researched the company, and that you are the ideal candidate for the job. Some time spent beforehand, going through the company’s website and getting a feel for what they are about and their day-to-day running, will show in your cover letter and immediately make it more appealing than the other candidates who didn’t bother. Make sure to play on the skills and qualities you have that match those the employer is looking for, do not be afraid to say what you are good at, showing you are competent is what the employer wants. On the same note, do not go too far and simply brag or sound too arrogant, this will immediately put the employer off.

As mentioned earlier, cover letters are not simply a way to repeat your CV; the prospective employer has all of your basic information written down, it is personality and your job suitability that they want to see in your cover letter. As in real life, if you make a connection to the employer and let them know this is not just another job application, you will have a greater chance of getting a call back. Another thing to keep in mind is that the employer will possibly be reading through many cover letters, so whilst making sure to show your personality, keep it brief and do not ramble on, as this could straight away put the reader off. It may be helpful to read through some cover letter examples, and start off with a template, as this will keep you on track whilst letting you add your personality. Finally, spell-check and grammar; there will be little point in writing out a great cover letter if it is just full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Most, if not all jobs, will involve being able to write proficiently, if this is not shown in the employers first contact with you, there is little chance of getting to interview level.


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