Most of us have come across CVs before, whether it was for a part time job or during a compulsory Careers module in school last class on a Friday afternoon. Cover Letters, however, are a little more daunting. There is so much great (and not so great) information online about how to write an outstanding Cover Letter. However, a lot of this information is long-winded and confusing, so to help you out, here are 6 simple steps to producing your own perfect Cover Letter. Each section should only take up a few lines.
Step One: Formatting
Although the art of letter writing has disintegrated as we opt for faster, more efficient communication methods, it’s worth remembering that your Cover Letter should be formatted like a business letter. This means your address should be on the top right hand corner, followed by the date and company address on the left. It should be no more than one page. If you’re running over, a good top is to decrease the margins to allow for more text on the one page (however, don’t go lower than 1.5cm).
Begin if you know the recruiter’s name and begin your letter with ‘Dear Ms Jones’, you should sign off with ‘Yours sincerely’. If you don’t know the name (which is most common), begin with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and finish with ‘Yours faithfully’.
Step 2: Introduction
No need to say ‘Please find my CV attached’ – they’ll find it. Also, don’t worry about declaring ‘My name is….’ (the recruiter will see this on your signature at the end of the letter anyway). Instead, expand upon your introduction by stating what degree you are studying, at what university, and explain how you found out about the vacancy. This could be Careerslink, through a company contact you met at a Careers Fair (name dropping is a must!) or through work experience/shadowing with the organisation.
Step 3: Why the company?
Explain why you want to work for this particular company. Be specific. This will show you that you have taken the time to research the organisation and tailor your Cover Letter accordingly, instead of just submitting a generic letter. Believe me, recruiters can tell the difference! Instead, have a look at the company website.
- What projects are they currently working on?
- Who are their clients?
- Have they won any awards or made any achievements recently?
- What do they consider their unique selling points? Is it their way of doing business, a particular product or service?
- Does the company ethos or culture appeal to you?
Step 4: Why the role?
Why do you want this particular role? Again, be specific about the job/internship. Look at the job description. Are there any duties or responsibilities that sound particularly interesting?
Step 5: Why you?
This should take up the largest section of your letter. This is your chance to promote yourself as the best person for the role. Pick two or three skills listed on the Essential Skills section of the job description (usually the top ones are the best), and give evidence as to how you have these skills. Include specific examples. Make sure you don’t just state that you have the skills, but give evidence of when you have developed or strengthened these skills.
Step 6: Conclusion
End on a positive note. Thank the recruiter for reading your application and state that you are looking forward to hearing from them soon etc. Now is a good time to lay out your availability for interview. If you have exams or are going on a holiday that has already been booked, tell them. But again, put a positive spin on it – are you available for skype/telephone interview during this time? If not, explain you are available for interview at any other time to suit their convenience.
Finally, remember your letter should only be one page in length, so a few lines for each section will suffice (except for Steps 4 & 5, which require more detail). For more information, check out The Careers Service’s Guide to Cover Letters.