A strong cover letter can set you apart from the competition when applying for a job. Alongside your CV, it should tell a potential employer everything they need to know about you and convince them that you are capable of fulfilling the requirements of the job you are applying for. While your CV will include details of your professional skills and experience, your cover letter allows you to show why you are a great fit for the job. A well-written cover letter can make all the difference.
What should my cover letter include?
Your cover letter should be a one-page document which highlights your interest in a particular role and exactly why you think that you are suitable. It allows you to expand on the information in your CV and show why your skills and experience make you well suited for the position.
There is no perfect formula for a cover letter but when writing yours be sure to include most of the following information:
- Make sure that you address the relevant contact and reference the job which you are applying for. Include a formal header which should contain your contact information.
- Make sure to include any information that has been requested in the job advert, such as current salary. You want the employer to have all the information they need about you, if they have to ask more questions they may be less likely to offer you an interview.
- Identify aspects of the job description and show why your experience makes you an ideal fit. Choose two or three of the tasks listed in the job advert and reference the experience you have that means you will be able to tackle those responsibilities
- Try to keep your letter concise; only include the points that demonstrate your strong suitability for the job. You don’t want to waffle. The recruiter may have to read multiple letters and won’t want to read an essay. Keep it short and to the point and there is a far better chance that they will read your whole letter and CV.
- Mention why you would like to work for the company – show the employer that you are excited to work for them. They are not only looking for someone who is capable of doing the job but someone who will be a good fit and will be invested in their organisation.
- Highlight any transferrable skills and versatility you have that you could bring to the role. Transferrable skills are highly valued and can show that you are ready to take on whatever challenge they throw at you.
- Close your letter with a polite expression of your interest in further dialogue about the job opportunity.
Things to avoid
- Don’t include any negative information of any sort – even if you are attempting to be honest or pragmatic about gaps in your experience it is best to leave this out. Remember that this will be the first impression that an employer gets of you and you want it to be positive.
- Try to avoid repeating anything which is listed in your CV – this letter should complement and add to your CV, not merely repeat it.
Before you send your cover letter
- Ensure that the font and layout match your CV – these two documents should complement each other and will be read at the same time.
- Always re-read and check for spelling and grammatical errors. Typos should be easy to avoid but they often slip through – recruiters and employers are unlikely to look favourably on such simple mistakes.
- Have a friend read your letter and ask them for honest feedback. Choose a friend or family member whose opinion you value and ask them to read your letter and CV together. It can be hard to be objective when writing about yourself, another opinion is always valuable.
Once you have your CV and cover letter completed, you are ready to apply. Best of luck. Once you secure your interview we have advice on how to master interview techniques, competency based questions and mastering your nerves. You can find that and more in our career advice section.