How to write the perfect cover letter

  9th January 2019       Claire Bond
 Job Seeking Resources, Accounting & Finance, Engineering, Science & Space, Human Resources, IT & Software Solutions, Office & Commercial

Many job seekers agonise over their CV – perfecting its length, choosing the right font and tweaking the layout – but what about the humble cover letter?

Even though the majority of job applications are digital, many recruiters still request a cover letter or email. Why? More than just a formality, it’s a great first-round qualifying tool and if your cover letter doesn’t tick the right boxes, the employer may not progress your application any further.

You should take just as much time crafting a cover letter as you do your CV. After all, it may even be the first thing an employer reads over and above your CV. To impress, you’ll need to do more than explain that your CV is attached and that you’d like to apply for a specific role.

Use the space to sell yourself, demonstrate your experience, highlight skills relevant to the role and explain why you want to work for the company.

There are 10 steps to creating the perfect cover letter

Use the below pointers to write something compelling the next time you apply for a job:

  1. Find out who is hiring and address them personally. ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ has an air of laziness about it so if the advert doesn’t mention anyone specifically, find out who is recruiting with a quick call to the company.
  2. Refer to the job you are applying for and mention where you saw the advert. It may be there are multiple positions available, so be clear in what you’re applying for and the source.
  3. Customise for each application. The only things that should stay the same are your name and address. The rest of the cover letter should be adapted to suit the vacancy and the company.
  4. Convey your personality. The opening paragraph is a chance for your personality to shine. You can talk more fluidly about your skills and experiences. Although a cover letter is less formal than a CV, don’t resort to slang or colloquial language.
  5. Highlight your most relevant skills and experience. While your CV is a snapshot of your whole career, a cover letter allows you to focus on previous roles and core skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Don’t be afraid to cite examples of projects you’ve been involved with or professional success stories.
  6. Refer to your CV but be different from it. You should use your cover letter to draw the recruiter’s attention to specific parts but don’t paraphrase your entire CV.
  7. Show you have researched the company. Browse their website and social medial channels (and even the trade press for mentions of the company) to really tailor your cover letter. Show you’ve done your homework by mentioning a recent launch or contract win that you find interesting.
  8. Keep it to one page. One side of A4 and no more.
  9. Proofread. The computer’s spell check isn’t foolproof. Always print out your cover letter and read it aloud to spot mistakes. Even better, get someone else with fresh eyes to take a look.
  10. Give the letter a sensible file name and save in a commonly used software. If you’re emailing your cover letter, save it in Word or create a PDF but ensure your full name and job you’re applying for is in the file name.

Of course, if you’re applying for a job through a recruitment agency, then a cover letter is still highly recommended. Recruitment consultants act as gatekeepers on behalf of clients and while you can be a little less formal, you should still explain why you think your CV should be put forward and what you’re looking for in a role generally.

Good luck!

Claire Bond


Claire has almost 25 years Recruitment experience. A specialist in the regional recruitment marketplace, Claire has extensive local knowledge and holds a reputation for quality, integrity, honesty and excellent matching. Heading up the HR and Office & Commercial Divisions of Bond Williams. Claire is responsible for the overall growth and …

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