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What Is A Cover Letter?

14 March 2019
Zara Woodcock
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Cover letters are the most mundane part of applying for jobs but are also extremely important. A well-written cover letter can help you secure a job even if your CV isn’t up to scratch. You are able to mention more things about yourself than in a CV, such as why the recruiter should be hiring you and nobody else. To help you understand, we put together a little guide on cover letters:

What Is A Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a document you send along with your CV, and it is usually no more than one page long. It should be a little more personal than a CV and is written specifically for the job title you are applying for. You would only include elements about your skills that are relevant to the exact job title.

For example, if you are applying to be a Graphic Designer, you wouldn’t go into detail about previous bartending jobs. You would write about how learning Adobe Illustrator at your previous work will assist you greatly in your new potential career. In summary, highlight the areas you think would make you perfect for the role.

 

What You Should Include In Your Cover Letter:

You will not have a lot of space to convince recruiters to hire you. Most good cover letters are between 250-300 words. This covers around half an A4 page and has 2 – 3 paragraphs.  Here are some things you should always include:

  1. Your personal details (e.g. phone number, home address, full name)
  2. The name of the recruiter and name of the company
  3. Why you are perfect for the job
  4. What you can do for the company
  5. Why they should hire you
  6. Closing statement

There is a lot of information to fit into three paragraphs, so be sure to only use the most relevant information.

 

How To Address A Cover Letter

Sometimes, when applying through job-search websites, the specific name of a hiring manager is not included. The first thing you can do is research the company and the people involved in hiring. If you can find their name, great! If not, there are many other general ways you can address the person hiring.

  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear Sir/Madam
  • Dear Human Resources Director

General greetings only advised as a last resort. Don’t be afraid to contact the company to ask who is in charge of the hiring process. This will help immensely. Once you have completed your cover letter, be sure to sign off properly. Add “I look forward to hearing from you” before you sign with:

  • Yours sincerely
  • Yours faithfully (if you do not have a contact name)

 

What Should Not Go On A CV

You should not put any unrelated information in your cover letter. The main aim of your cover letter is to quickly summarise why you are a good fit for the job. Here are a few things to watch out for when writing the cover letter:

  • spelling mistakes
  • long, waffly paragraphs
  • salary requirements
  • empty claims or lies
  • reasons you left your previous jobs
  • your demands for the role
  • excessive modesty
  • negative comments about a previous job or boss

Besides the above, you might also want to avoid including your religion, race, and gender. These are known as protected characteristics, and you are legally protected from being discriminated at work because of them. It is, therefore, your decision if you wish to declare any of these on your cover letter or at an interview.

 

Examples of Cover Letters

 

Now that you know what a cover letter is, have a read of our guide that goes through more detail of exactly what you need to write the perfect cover letter.