by Simone Wilkes

A covering letter is your personal sales pitch, offering you the opportunity to demonstrate why you want the job and why you would like to work for the organisation. It should be no longer than one side of A4.

Your CV and covering letter work as a pair to complement each other. The skills and experience you discuss in your covering letter should always expand on the basic content in your CV.

Content to Include In Your Cover Letter

  1. The opening

If you do not know the name of the hiring manager open with “Dear Sir/Madam”. You may wish to consider contacting the employer to find out to whom you should address the letter.

Explain which role it is that you are applying for, this can be as simple as adding a subheading with the job title. If a reference number is included in the advert include this here too.

  1. Why do you want to work for the company?

This paragraph should explain to the employer what it is about their organisation that made you apply. This is your opportunity to show the employer that you have done your research; re-read the job description and look at the company website and that of their competitors. Areas to consider are:

  • How does the company describe themselves?
  • How do they differ from their competitors?
  • Have they been involved in any exciting projects recently or had some exciting news?
  • Do you identify with the company’s values or mission?
  1. Why the role?

You should demonstrate your motivations for applying for the role in this paragraph. Ensure that you explain to the employer why this particular role has interested you, not just a career in the sector in general. To do this, look at the job description and responsibilities the role will involve, pull out two or three of these and discuss why you find them appealing.

  1. Why you?

The aim here is to show the employer how you are suited to the role, referring to the requirements that are included in the job description. Pull out three or four of these and demonstrate how you meet them with a short example for each.

  1. The ending

Reaffirm your suitability for the role, your enthusiasm about the prospect of working for the employer and state that you are looking forward to hearing from them.

Signing off:

  • If you know the name of whom you are addressing use “yours sincerely” to end your letter.
  • If you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, end with “yours faithfully”.

Top tips

  • Avoid copying and pasting information from your CV

Rephrase information or expand on the particular skills and achievements in your CV.

  • Refer to a charity as an organisation or ‘charity’ NOT a ‘company’.
  • Avoid using generalised statements

Be specific about your skills, experience and achievements.

  • Applying for work experience alongside your studies?

Draw on examples from a broad range of experiences including your degree, extra-curricular activities and part-time job.

Want some additional support? Come and chat to us in the Employability Hub, Business School!