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What is a Cover Letter?

Cover letters are extremely important, but often overlooked by job-seekers. The cover letter should be more than a note saying ‘Please find my CV attached’. Instead, this is a chance to sell yourself.

But what exactly is the difference between a CV and a cover letter?

Whilst your CV is a list of your qualifications and skills, the cover letter should put these experiences into context. For example, you may have a qualification in marketing listed on your CV, but how would this help you in the job you’re applying for? You might have worked in a team at your last job, but what more can you tell your employer about this experience?

CV: ‘University of Sunderland, September 2010 – June 2013
Marketing BSc Hons – 2:1′

Cover Letter : ‘Having studied marketing at the University of Sunderland, I have gained an invaluable knowledge and understanding on Augmented Reality Marketing in particular. I feel that my interest in digital marketing would make me an ideal candidate for this role, as I am enthusiastic about the subject and extremely passionate about pursuing a career which can maximise my strengths. Not only this, but my course also allowed me to develop my team-working skills etc…’


Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your cover letter:


Your cover letter should ALWAYS be relevant for the job you’re applying for.
Make sure everything on your cover letter matches what is expected of you from the job you’re applying for. You can find this information on the original job post, or if there isn’t much information listed, you can contact the employer and request more details about the role. If the job post mentions that there’ll be a lot of customer service involved, your cover letter should talk about how you enjoy communicating with others and you are confident in handling conflict. If they’re looking for a team player, discuss the team roles you’ve had and what you can bring to a group.


Do your research on the company you’re applying for.
Talk about the company ethos; you may be able to find this on a website or even via their slogan. You can emphasise how you would fit in well with this and give examples. For instance, if you’re applying to a business that promotes sustainability, you can discuss your passion for combating climate change.


Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through!
Talking about your interests and how they’ve helped you develop your skillset is a good idea and helps the employer better understand you as a person.


To close your letter, remain polite but make clear the action you would like the reader to take.
A simple ‘I hope my application has demonstrated why I would be a great fit for this job. I look forward to hearing from you’ finishes the letter off nicely.


Once you have your content prepared, it needs to be formatted correctly.
If you know the name of the person you’re sending your application to, use their surname. If you don’t know who your application is being sent to, you should use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. Similarly, when closing your letter, if you know the addressee’s name, you should sign off ‘Yours Sincerely’. The sign off you should use when you don’t know the name of the addressee is ‘Yours Faithfully’.


Remember to keep your letter brief!
You don’t need to go over everything in your CV, only the points which you think may need elaborating. Any longer than a page could be considered too long by the employer, and they may stop reading before the end. You should also use a simple font which is easy for the recipient to read.


If you need further advice on the job application process, including CV writing, job interview techniques and job searching advice, check out our ‘Latest News’ posts!