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How to write a job cover letter

By FLcs 27 Apr 2021

A cover letter is a document that acts as a personal introduction, which complements your CV and can be used to show the employer why you’re the best candidate for the job. It focuses on your skills and experience, and although it is not always a mandatory step in the job applications, it is necessary as it helps you stand out among the competition. The cover letter should be about 3 to 5 short paragraphs and not exceed one A4 page.

Before writing your cover letter, there are a few things to research, such as:

  • Look into the role and the company that you’re applying for. You can use this knowledge to tailor your cover letter accordingly, whether that’s about the benefits you’d bring to the role, or the reasons you’re interested in the position.
  • Look into the organisation and its culture. Maybe you can connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn and see what they’ve been up to in the recent months and include it in your cover letter to show that you’ve done your research and are passionate about the company. If you can’t get that information from the hiring manager, research relevant news about the company, maybe you’ll find some exciting partnerships or projects, and use them too!
  • If you can find it, look into the organisation’s goals and values. Use them when talking about what you want to achieve in your role, how your values are aligned to the company’s, what you will bring to the table and how your actions will help achieve the organisation’s set goals.

How to format your cover letter:

It should be well-presented, concise, and contain only the relevant information. Make sure you have clear paragraphs, easy to read font, and don’t use any unnecessary additions, such as pictures, gifs, or word art. Make sure that your cover letter contains all the relevant information in a concise way, so that it doesn’t exceed one A4 page, but also ensure that it’s not too short. 

a man and a woman looking at the camera

How to address your cover letter:

Cover letters are addressed to the person who reads the applications. Sometimes, you’ll find their name on the job advert, but there will be a lot of times when you won’t be able to find out the recipient’s name.

If you can find the name – use their name to address the letter with, e.g., Dear Mr Smith/Dear Ms Jones

If you can’t find the name – you can use Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Hiring Manager

Closing your cover letter:

If you know the name and used it when addressing the letter, sign off with ‘Yours sincerely’.

If you don’t know the name – sign off with ‘Yours faithfully’.

How to structure your cover letter:

  • First paragraph

The first paragraph is used as an opening statement where you show your reasons for writing the letter. Start it by stating the position you’re applying for and briefly introduce yourself (e.g., your degree, your university and your grade).

  • Second paragraph

Talk about relevant experience and show how your skills match the job description requirements. You can also add some additional skills or experience that are not mentioned in the job description but make sure you show how they would benefit the organisation and your role.

  • Third paragraph

This is where you talk about your suitability for the role. Cover what attracted you to this type of work, why you want to work for the company, and what you can offer to the organisation.

  • Fourth paragraph

This is the closing paragraph which you use to reiterate your interest in the role, and that you are looking forward to hearing back from them.

Once you are done with writing your cover letter, make sure you re-read it again to avoid any mistakes, unnecessary or repeating information that could be removed, and if possible, get someone else to check it for you as well. Make sure that the information in your cover letter doesn’t repeat your CV and that it is tailored to the job description.

The information above has used the following resource websites, where you can find some cover letter examples as well:

If you need any help in writing or checking your cover letter, contact the Coventry University Talent Team which will support you in every step of the job application process.