A cover letter is a business letter which is often requested by employers as part of a job application. It is the first opportunity for you to market yourself to the employer by demonstrating how your skills, knowledge and experience match their job requirements. Employers often use cover letters to screen applicants so it is vital you make a good impression.

Your cover letter should be one A4 page in length and its purpose is to introduce you to the employer and to explain why you are the best candidate for this position. The key is to ensure your writing is concise and to the point. Longer cover letters are often not well received by some employers.  Your letter should be written using the standard business letter style and you must use formal English. Where possible, personally address the letter to the person responsible for hiring – you may need to contact the organisation to ask for the managers’ name and title. Always get someone to check your document for spelling, grammar and typographical errors.

You should write a fresh letter tailored specifically for each job. Template cover letters are obvious to employers and are unlikely to get you an interview.

Base your letter around four key paragraphs

By following the tips below, you will be able to write an effective cover letter.

Paragraph one

State the job you are applying for and how you found out about the job.

Paragraph two

Explain why you are interested in applying for this job with this organisation. This is your chance to demonstrate that you know something about the organisation and to show your enthusiasm for the job or company.

Paragraph three

Explain how you meet the requirements of the job (these should be listed in the job advertisement or position description). This includes your relevant educational qualifications, skills and experience. Make sure you provide evidence of how and where you developed your skills and experiences – it is not sufficient to just state that you have a particular type of experience or skill.

Paragraph four

Write that you look forward to meeting the employer at an interview in the near future to discuss the role. Include the best way to contact you (e.g. mobile number) and if there are circumstances that may impact on your availability for an interview (such as exams, pre-arranged travel plans) you should mention these.

Find out more…

See a Sample Cover Letter.

Read articles on writing cover letters.