Cover letters are sent alongside your CV. It shouldn’t be a replica of your CV but rather it’s an opportunity to explain why you want to work for a company and why they should hire you. Here you should explain clearly how your skills and experience match the job requirements.

Format

If you are sending an email, put the cover letter in the body of the email rather than as an attachment.

Structure

Paragraph 1. State the role you are looking to apply to and how you found out about the position. Address the email or letter to the “Hiring Manager” or the name of the person or department listed on the job advert. For example, “Dear Hiring Manager, I would like to apply for the role XYZ which I saw advertised on your website and I enclose my CV for your consideration”.

Paragraph 2. Explain why you want to work for the company. Look at what makes the company unique. For example, mention any deals or work it has been involved in that you find interesting. Make sure you understand what the company does and what your role will involve. Often, you may not have access to much information on a company and that’s okay. Just ensure you explain why you’re interested in what the company does.

Draw upon your previous experiences to explain why these things are interesting to you. Mention any contacts and any insight you gained into the firm from this contact. E.g. “At the ABC Event, I spoke mainly to Person X who spoke highly of the friendly and open culture within the company. Through my work experiences, I gained an understanding of the importance of a friendly atmosphere within an organisation, and this is another key reason I am applying to the company”.

Paragraph 3 &4 . Explain why you would be suited for the role. Draw upon your experiences, extracurricular activities and skill set to lay out why you would make the ideal candidate. Don’t be modest. You need to convince the recruiter you are the best candidate for the role. Use effective adjectives when describing your skills and achievements such as “excellent” “exceptional” “strong” “substantially” “significantly”. Make sure you give examples to explain how and where you demonstrated or developed particular skills. Try to quantify your achievements by adding details of what you did (e.g. I was a top performer on the sales team and sold a record £1000 of goods in one week).

Paragraph 5. Polite closure – “I look forward to hearing from you” Yours Sincerely (if you have the name of the person, you’re sending it to), or Yours Faithfully (if you don’t have the name of the person).

Example Cover Letter

This template exemplifies the structure above. It is geared towards an application to a job in the legal sector, but the framework can be used for most roles.