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The secret to writing a successful cover letter

Man taking notes

A cover letter is often the first thing a hiring manager looks at, so it’s important to get this right. Writing a successful cover letter will help make your job application stand out and can go a long way to getting that all important interview.

If you’re not sure where to start, read our guide to find out more…

What is a cover letter and why is it needed?

A cover letter is an essential part of any job application and should be sent to employers alongside your CV to summarise your skills, experience and suitability for a job.

A cover letter should make it clear which job the CV is for and include the name of the job vacancy and any reference that has been given for it. The great thing about a cover letter is that it’s specifically written with the job you’re applying for in mind, which means you can tailor its contents for the role you are applying for and show why you’re the best candidate for the job.

What should a cover letter include?

As a general rule, you should structure your cover letter as follows:

Opening paragraph – state the job vacancy you’re applying for and where you found out about it.

Second paragraph – explain why you’re interested in the role, the company and prove you’re a suitable candidate by describing the relevant skills that you have, particularly those that relate to the job description.

Third paragraph – summarise your strengths and previous experience and state how this will be beneficial to the role. 

Closing paragraph – thank the employer and say you look forward to hearing from them soon. Make sure you include your contact details so that they’re able to contact you.

Top tips for creating the perfect cover letter

Do

  • Keep it clear, concise and to the point. Aim for around half a page of A4.
  • Ask someone to proof read and check for spelling mistakes.
  • Relate your skills and experience to the job you’re applying for.
  • Include examples to prove why you’re suitable for the job.
  • Make sure you include your contact details!

Don’t

  • Use the same cover letter for every job application.
  • Make it all about you - focus on how you meet the company needs instead.
  • Repeat what’s in your CV word for word.
  • Talk about your weaknesses.
  • Be overly personal, such as badmouthing your previous employers.

If you’re ready to start updating your cover letter, you can download our template here.

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