What to put in your cover letter?


Cover letters may not play the same role in recruitment as they have in the past, in fact your cover letter might not be a letter at all.  More of a supporting statement added to an email or a job board application. Whatever form it take there is still a need for additional information to support your application.

CVs by definition, are a short summary of your academic and working life. While you can convey a certain amount of information in them, they don’t allow for much of a chance to ‘sell yourself’.  This is where the supporting statement comes into force, it allows you space to highlight why you want and are right for the job.

With there often being a limited space to create your masterpiece, what do you need to include to ensure it supports rather than detracts from your application…

  1. Don’t just regurgitate your CV – try not to fall into the trap of simply repeating chunks of your CV, listing roles you’ve had and for how long. Those hiring can read all that on your CV, take the opportunity to expand and add detail.  Pick one or two aspects of your CV that highlight why you’re suited to the role.
  2. Tailor it to each and every role – just like your CV, any supporting document should be tailored to the role you’re applying for. Read through the job advert and try to pick out phrases and terms they use.  If the job advert ask specifically for someone with Sector X experience and an understanding of Y. Then mirror those phrases in your letter…  ‘My 5 years working within Sector X has given me lots of exposure to Y…’
  3. Highlight achievements – as you would do in your CV quantify your statements with proof. Don’t just say you’re a brilliant sales person, tell them how much you increased sales by or how you’ve exceeded your target for the past 2 years etc…
  4. Don’t be too keen – while it does give you the opportunity to say how much you want the role and how perfect you think you are for it. Try not to come across too desperate or go to over the top as it may just sound fake.
  5. Remember the basics – it is highly unlikely that you will be sending your application in the post, however it is still important to include basic information. If you’re sending via email make it clear what position you’re applying for, make sure your name and contact details are easy to find. You don’t necessarily have to structure it like a formal letter with the date and postal addresses but do start and end it properly.  Dear XX or To whom it may concern, rather than a simple, hi…
  6. Do a proper proof read –  don’t just rely on spell checker as this won’t always pick up grammatical errors such as the wrong use of there, they’re or their.


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