Tips on writing great cover letters
Your CV and cover letter are two parts of the same job application. They should complement each other. Your cover letter introduces your CV, and draws the employer's attention to the knowledge, experience, skills and qualities you will bring to the job.
- Each letter should match the job. Do not send a standard letter under any circumstances!
- Avoid copying directly from models of covering letters that you think look good. Use your own words.
- Always keep a copy of everything you send to a company when making a job application. This will be useful later – for example, during your interview preparation.
To write a good cover letter, you need to research both the job and the employer.
- You can research the job by reading the job description. If the job description is not part of the advertisement, try calling the employer and asking for a copy.
- You can research the employer by looking at their website, brochures, business directories, annual reports, and news.
Required skills and personal qualities
- Look at the employer's requirements, and write down those that are skills, and those that are personal qualities.
- Decide which of these are 'essential' (must have these for the job), and which are 'preferred' (ideal, but negotiable).
- Brainstorm the skills you believe you have that match those required by the employer. Describe any additional skills you believe could also be relevant. See Identify your skills.
- Use a word processing program to type your cover letter, such as Microsoft Word. The exception to this rule is if the employer asks you to handwrite it.
- Use the same style of font and quality of paper as you use for your CV.
- Keep your cover letter to one page.
- Remember to sign the cover letter if you are sending a hard copy.
- Use clear, correct language.
- Avoid mistakes in your spelling or grammar!
- Get someone to proof-read it for you.
- Demonstrate that you have done some research about the company.
- Provide a confident ending with details on how they can best contact you.
View a suggested layout for a cover letter here:
- Attend a workshop.
- A careers consultant can check your cover letter ('drop in' consultation - no appointment is necessary). Learn how Career Development and Employment Services can help you.
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