All you need to know about Cover Letters
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a brief one page document typically attached to a CV which allows recruiters and employers to develop a better understanding of your suitability.
However, it differs from a CV (which is about marketing your skills, qualities and experience) as it more of a personal summary used to provide additional information about why you’re interested in working for that company, what you can bring to the company and your qualifications in relation to the position.
Think of it similar to the headline of a newspaper which draws the reader into knowing more – allowing you to elaborate on your career story before the interview and showcases your personality to the employer.
The cover letter should directly relate to the requirements of the job and give insight into who you are as a professional and an individual – it also an opportunity to showcase your work ethics, characteristics and achievements.
Do I need a cover letter?
A cover letter is an important aspect of the job search process and could be the difference in securing that first stage interview for your dream role.
It can be tempting to skip writing a cover letter as it is usually a time consuming process but it will increase your chances of employability so it’s essential that do it and ensure its tailored for every job you’re applying for.
Remember that not everyone will submit a cover letter so take this as an opportunity to stand out in a competitive market setting you apart from those that haven’t written one.
Do your research
Similar to writing a CV it is vital that you undertake research to gain an in-depth understanding of the company, culture, values and the role itself. You can use various sources such as their website, social media and online employee reviews as a means to obtain the information which should be incorporated into the cover letter.
How to write a cover letter
Each cover letter should be different as it will only be relevant to the position you’re applying for.
We suggest that you stick to three paragraphs in the following format:
- First paragraph is extremely important so don’t waste this space on a boring generic introduction. This part should aim to grab the employer’s attention explaining where you heard about the position and why you are the ideal candidate.
- Second paragraph should detail what you have to offer the company. This is your chance to talk about the transferrable skills/experience you have as well as any qualifications and achievements in relation to the position.
- Third paragraph should thank the employer for considering your application and also mention that you intend to follow up on a response of your application in due course.
How should a cover letter be formatted?
There is wiggle room around the format and layout but generally you want to stick to one A4 page. A couple of things to consider:
- Ensure it is easy to read
- Keep paragraphs short
- Reinforce any statements with facts and achievements
- Use a professional font e.g. Arial, Verdana or Tahoma
- Triple check your spelling and grammar for any mistakes
- Do not write in third person
What should it include?
- Personal details .e.g. name, address, phone number
- The hiring manager’s name (if possible)
- Why you’re suitable for the job
- Where you found the vacancy
- What you can bring to the company
- Closing thank you statement
- Don’t waffle – aim to keep it as clear and concise as possible.
- Don’t just repeat what’s on your CV – make it interesting and engaging to read.
- Address the name of your hiring manager in the letter if possible.
- Use the letter to explain any potential concerns an employer may have about you, such as gaps in employment history.
- Take a look at some cover letter examples to get a feel for the layout and tone of wording
- Explain why the job is attractive to you – is it career prospects or the industry/company etc.?
We’re experts in recruitment and we’re always on hand to provide any advice or support on the writing cover letters or the wider recruitment process. Please contact us here and speak to one of our consultants.