Most job vacancies will ask for a cover letter to be sent alongside your application, CV or resume. Your cover letter is the first thing a potential employer will read about you. Here you will find useful guidelines to help you write a strong cover letter.
Before you begin, remember:
- Employers will read your cover letter very quickly.
- They will probably decide on that basis whether or not to look at your CV.
In the first two paragraphs you will need to include clear, concise and relevant information for the role you are applying for. Also try and show that you have taken the time to research the company or organisation. This will tell the employer that you have initiative and are interested in the role. This will demonstrate that you are worth considering.
All your contact details – name, address, phone number and email address – should be clearly stated at the top of the letter.
Who to send it to
Try to address your cover letter to a specific person. If you are responding to an advertisement, it will usually give the name of the person you need to write to.
If you are sending your details to a company without a specific role in mind, then research who the best person would be to contact.
Either phone the company switchboard or look at the organisation’s website to find the right contact.
State the role you are applying for using the same job titles or references as the advertisement and give one solid reason why you should be considered for it.
If you are sending your details speculatively, show that you have done some research about the company. Explain why you are writing to them and what attracts you to their organisation Also give one solid reason why they should consider employing you.
Explain why you want and are right for the role. Highlight any direct experience you have had which relates to their requirements.
If you are applying speculatively, show that you have found out something about the company and explain why you think you would fit in well with their team and why they should consider you.
Tell them that they can find further details on your CV. If you have an online portfolio, add a link to it, as this is an easy way for them to find out more about you and your work.
If you have a lot of relevant information you could add another paragraph here, but keep it concise.
State your interest in the role and that you are available for interview. If they require someone to start work quickly and you are available for immediate interview and free to start straight away, make that clear.
Finish the letter by saying that you look forward to hearing from them. If you have addressed the letter to a specific person, it is usual to end a formal letter with “Yours sincerely”. If you have not addressed it to a named individual, you should end with “Yours faithfully”.
This should be followed by your signature, with your name typed below it.
Sending cover letters by email
- Make sure the details of the role you are applying for appear in the subject line.
- Send the cover letter as an attachment if specifically stated. Otherwise, send it as the body of the email with just the CV attached.
- Use ‘Dear [Name]’ when sending, as you would in a letter. If their reply starts with ‘Hi [Name]’ then you can mirror their style and use ‘Hi’ after that.
- Make sure that all your contact details are clearly stated somewhere. These should include your name, full address, phone number, email address, link to your online portfolio and LinkedIn profile URL if you have one.
Things to avoid
- Poor spelling and grammar. Use a spell checker and ask someone to proof read it too.
- Writing too much, keep the cover letter as concise as possible.
- Using a casual tone unless you know its appropriate. Most employers will expect a formal tone.