How to write a cover letter

A cover letter is a personal statement that accompanies a CV. Many employers will read a cover letter before looking at a CV, so your efforts should be evenly spread between the two. A cover letter allows you to tell the employer more about yourself, detail your suitability for the role and availability. 

What should the cover letter include?

1. A greeting

At the beginning of a cover letter you should always greet the reader with ‘Dear (insert name)’. If you don’t know who the person is, you should begin with ‘Dear Sir or Madam,’ but try your best to do some research and find the name of the relevant person. With networking sites like LinkedIn and search engines, it’s often easier than you think.

2. Introduce yourself and state the position you are applying for

Introduce yourself in the first paragraph and state the position you are applying for. Make sure you include the full job title and reference number if it’s needed, as some employers will be interviewing for a number of positions.

3. Tell them how you fit the bill

This paragraph is the main body of your cover letter, where you’ll summarise your suitability for the role. Here you will outline your strengths, key skills and work experience showcased on your CV. It will be useful to read the personal specification and job description to make sure you’re demonstrating skills the employer wants. Use this paragraph to elaborate on any outstanding achievements you’ve mentioned on your CV.

4. Let the employer know why you want the job

This section will also form a main part of your cover letter. An employer will want to know why you want to work for them, so show an understanding of the company and genuine enthusiasm for the role – it will set you apart from the other applicants. Again use the job description and any supporting material to explain what attracted you to the position and the company. If the company has a website, use it! Research the company to show an interest.

5. Wrap it up

In the last section you should make a reference to your attached CV, thank the individual for taking the time to read it and let them know you’re looking forward to hearing from them. If you wish you can include details about the best times to contact you and when you’re available for an interview.

6. End with a good bye

The end of a cover letter should always end with ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Yours faithfully’. Remember to use these phrases correctly. You must end a letter with ‘Yours sincerely’ if you have named the person and ‘Yours faithfully’ if the person is anonymous.