A cover letter is a supporting document that is sent alongside your CV when applying for jobs. It acts as a personal introduction and is the best chance of getting the attention of the hiring manager. Writing a strong cover letter will help you to stand out against the other candidates. Every cover letter should be written specifically for the job that you are applying for. Thinking about applying to numerous jobs and sending off a generic cover letter to them all? Hiring managers will know it’s a generic letter and will be less likely to call you back. Use our cover letter template to help!
Date, contact information and greeting
In this digital world, the majority of cover letters you send will be submitted online – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t format them properly. For digital cover letters, be sure to include the date, your name, county, email address and phone number. Feel free to leave off your specific address and details of the hiring manager, and follow a format similar to below:
If you are submitting a paper copy of your cover letter, the standard letter writing format would be more appropriate:
Your City, County, Postcode
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address
Hiring Manager’s Name
Company City, County, Postcode
The greeting of your cover letter will depend on whether you know the hiring manager’s full name or not. If you do, use their full name without Mr, Mrs or Ms as this may require some guesswork. “Dear Alan Smith” will be enough. If you don’t know the hiring manager’s full name, stick with “Dear Hiring Manager” – avoid “to whom it may concern” or “dear Sir/Madam” as these phrases are seen to be outdated.
Paragraph one: why you are writing the cover letter
In the first paragraph of your cover letter, you should begin by stating why you are writing the letter, for which position you are applying for, and where you saw it advertised.
The opening paragraph can be used to tell the employer about relevant experiences you have had, although there will be more on that later. Within the opening section you should let the employer know that your CV is enclosed, you can also tell the employer why you would like to work for their company, and how the job lines up with your career goals.
Middle paragraphs: what you can offer the employer
Paragraph two should tell the employer exactly what makes you the perfect candidate for the job. Be sure to include an overview of your education, career history, as well as your most relevant experience. Relate this back to how you can help the company you are applying for.
If your current role is in a similar sector, draw on any notable achievements that could help improve your application. If you have any statistics, i.e., sales went up 50% when you implemented your previous business plan, this would be a good point to share them. Don’t forget, the hiring manager will have already read your CV, so try not to repeat yourself in your cover letter. Instead, use the opportunity to expand on the points in your CV and paint a more detailed picture for the hiring manager.
Ending paragraph: a round-up
The ending paragraph acts as a conclusion to your cover letter. The main goal should be to thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration, whilst summarising your key qualifications and experiences. You can also use this space to make clarifications from your CV, or to explain any gaps in employment history.
It is good practice to end your closing paragraph by expressing an interest in continuing to the next stage of the hiring process.
When closing the letter, choose a friendly and formal closing that feels professional. Avoid closing the cover letter with phrases such as “cheers” “thanks a ton” or “take care”. Instead, choose phrases such as “kind regards” best wishes” or “best regards”. If you know the hiring manager’s name, you can close with “yours sincerely”, or “yours faithfully” if not – followed by your first and last name.
- Keep it concise! Half a page to a full typed page will be long enough
- Try to find out the hiring manager’s full name so you can address them properly in the cover letter. If it’s not clear on the application, try LinkedIn
- Once finished, read through the cover letter and cut out any unnecessary words and sentences
- Check that all key skills and experiences are included within your cover letter
- Try to avoid making it jargon heavy, keep it light and easy to read
- Don’t fill up space by repeating what’s already covered in your CV
- Don’t point out what is missing from your CV – if you have seven out of 10 skills needed for the job, don’t waste any time discussing the three you don’t have
- Write a personalised cover letter for each job you apply for
- Pick a simple, easily readable font such as Calibri or Ariel
- Follow the instructions on the job advert. If they specify that they want the cover letter submitted as a PDF, don’t submit a word document
Now you are an expert in cover letter writing! We hope you have taken away some insights and feel confident writing your own cover letter. Need more help? Download our template for a digital cover letter, take away the sections in red and add in your answers.
Not sure what role you want to apply for yet? Check out all Unitemps current vacancies. Good luck applying for your next job!
Last updated on 21 October 2022Share this article