How to write a cover letter

The importance of a good cover letter should never be underestimated, as a good cover letter will make or break your chances of being invited for an interview.

Some people feel uncomfortable when talking about themselves in a cover letter and you may find it difficult to know what to write in your cover letter. However, writing a cover letter is a skill that you can practise and develop over time. Taking the time to write a strong cover letter will certainly pay off in the long run.

In this article, we will look at what a cover letter is, what to include in a cover letter, how to start and end your cover letter and we will include some top tips for writing your best possible cover letter.

What is a cover letter?

Put simply, a cover letter (or covering letter) is a letter that accompanies the CV sent to potential employers when you are applying for jobs. Ideally, a cover letter should be around one side of A4 paper (and certainly no more than two sides of A4).

The idea of a cover letter is to explain your motivation for applying to the role in question. The cover letter is a vital part of your application which should not be omitted, as it is a great way to highlight your suitability for the role.

What to include in a cover letter:

For maximum effect, your cover letter should be highly tailored towards the company and the specific role you are applying to. While no two cover letters should be the same there are some elements you should definitely include in every cover letter. For example:

Knowledge of the company - Any potential employers will know straight away that you have not done your research if you send in a generic cover letter. A distinct lack of knowledge about the company can hugely hamper your chances of being asked to interview so make sure you have done sufficient research to prove that you have at least elementary knowledge of the company you are applying to.

A description of your relevant skills and experience - It is vital that you use the cover letter as an opportunity to expand upon the details you have included in your CV. You should take the person specification for the role and go through it, line by line, to find examples of how your skills and experience match the role requirements. This will make things easier for the recruiter who is shortlisting for the role while highlighting an organised and methodical thinking style.

How to start a cover letter.

There are many ways to start a cover letter and you may try out different approaches to see what works best for you. Here are some common approaches.

A short synopsis of why you are applying for the role. For example:

“I am applying to the role of IT manager because I am an experienced IT professional with over five years of service desk experience”.

An opening line about the company’s achievements:

“I am applying to the role of Sales Executive because I am keen to work as part of an awardwinning sales department.”

Express your passion for the role you are applying for:

“Effective fundraising is something I am hugely passionate about. Throughout my six years of experience, I have consistently improved my skillset and am now at the point where I am qualified for the role of Fundraising Manager.”

How many words should a cover letter be?

There is no hard rule about how long a cover letter should be. Ideally, your cover letter should be in an easily readable font size (usually size 10-12 depending on the font) and should take up around one side of A4 paper. Make sure that you are as concise as possible while making your points and ensure that your cover letter does not exceed two sides of A4 paper as this is too lengthy to send to a recruiter who may be reviewing potentially hundreds of other applications.

How to end a cover letter

When ending a cover letter, it is good to underline a final time why you think you are the right fit for the role. For example:

“To sum up, I believe that I would be an excellent fit for this role due to the unique skillset I have gained throughout my six years of experience in marketing at one of the UK’s leading restaurant chains.”

Furthermore, you may want to highlight once more your knowledge about the company:

“Thank you for reading my application to the role of HR Manager. I believe that my skills and my passion for HR would serve me well as part of your award-winning team as you move into an exciting new phase of your business”.

How to sign off a cover letter

Generally, when finishing a cover letter, you should write:

“Yours sincerely” - Use this when you know the name of the person who will be reviewing your application.

“Yours faithfully” - This should be used when you don’t know the name of the individual who will be reading over your application.

Thank you for reading our article on how to write a cover letter. Best of luck with your future job applications!