When applying for a job you want to make a great impact, with a stand out CV. But before employers even read your CV, they will generally be greeted with a covering letter. They are going to be reading your covering letter before your CV, so it’s important to keep them interested from the first page. You typically only get 30 seconds to grab the attention of an employer! In order to make a good first impression, your covering letter needs to be well structured, grammatically correct and support your CV.
Take a look at our useful tips for creating a successful letter below, and some links for further information.
- Introduce yourself and inform the employer which vacancy you are applying for
Begin with a clear indication of the job you’re applying for and where you heard about it. If you have the name of a direct contact or referral, this is the place to mention it.
- Highlight your relevant skills and how they can be used in this role
Relate your skills and experience to those outlined in the job description, making sure you tailor the covering letter for each application. Explain why you are applying for this particular role, at this specific company.
- Mention any additional skills over and above the job advert
Add any supporting information you feel is necessary, such as applied aspects of the role or what additional skills you can bring over and above the job specification.
- Personalise each letter
Try to find out the name of the person responsible for recruiting the role and some key company information can also show that you’ve done your research.
- Research the company you are applying to, and include information about them in your covering letter, detailing what attracts you to work for them. This will demonstrate that you have taken the time to research their work, and you are enthusiastic to work for them, rather than just sending a generic letter.
- Keep it clear and concise
One A4 page will be enough for a covering letter. you want to grab the employer’s attention in the first few lines, as you would with your CV. However, don’t rewrite your CV, just include key statements that will impress a prospective employer.
- Spell Check
Ensure your letter is free of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors! Employers may be put off if your application consists of lots of grammar mistakes, especially if the role requires attention to detail!
- Contact Details
Where ever possible send your letter and CV to a named individual, rather than using sir/madam. Research using websites or contact their HR department and get yourself a name of who to address your letter to.
If you need further advice, or you would like a staff member to look over your covering letter, the Careers and Employability Service Drop Ins (daily, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 2pm – 4pm in the Careers Building) are a great place to start, where qualified employability and careers advisers are on hand with support and advice.
Useful sites for further information: