Writing a cover letter

Wondering how to write a cover letter? Or, even if you should bother writing one at all? In today's electronic age it is easy to forget the basic courtesies of applying for a job and the importance of writing cover letters to support your application are an often over-looked part of the process.

The value of writing a cover letter should not be under-estimated – it could mean the difference between you getting a chance to interview for a dream role or your resume getting lost under a pile of applications.

Your cover letter can be described as a sneak-peak to the main feature (your full resume!) and its main function is to get your CV read (find out how to write a CV).  It is your chance to make personal contact and provide a link between you and the hiring manager for the position you are applying for.

Tips on how to write a cover letter :

  • Avoid writing a lengthy (and potentially boring) cover letter. Four short paragraphs should be sufficient for you to gain the interest of the reader and help your application stand out from other applicants.
  • Focus on the company's requirements rather than your own – look at what they have listed in the job description as to the main responsibilities of the role and the qualities they are looking for in candidates – describe your own skills and experience with the same language.
  • Try to avoid flowery language and too much use of the word I, especially at the beginning of paragraphs.
  • Always tailor your cover letter to the job that you are applying for and where possible address the person who has written the ad. A covering letter to a bank is unlikely to be the same as one to a media production company where you may have more scope for creativity. 
  • Before you hit send, check grammar and spelling carefully. Sloppy spelling could see your application sent straight onto the rejection pile.

How to structure your cover letter into four parts:

  1. The opening paragraph should tell the employer who you are and why you are contacting them
  2. The second paragraph outlines what you have to offer. Include three points that highlight your specific relevant experience or skills
  3. The third paragraph should include three points explaining how your achievements would add value to the company
  4. The closing paragraph should state clearly when you are available for interview.

For more information on writing a cover letter read our related article:

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