While there are a couple of different schools of thought on whether submitting a cover letter as part of your application is worth the hassle, I don't think anyone would make the argument that a well-written cover letter would be less beneficial to your application than not submitting one at all.

So instead of trying to work out whether or not writing a cover letter is a waste of time the question should be, how do you write a good one? With that in mind, let's look at what comprises a good cover letter.

Every time you send out a CV, the cover letter attached should be tailored to not only the job that you are applying for but the company that you are applying to as well. It not only represents an enormous opportunity to discuss your motivation for applying to that specific the position and in that specific company, it also serves to draw the reader’s attention to the most relevant parts of your CV.

It’s important to show consistency between the case you make for yourself in the cover letter and on your CV. Both elements of your application should complement one another and paint a clear picture of who you are, what your relevant experience is and what you’re like to work with to the recruiter.

We've been talking to recruiters at both partner companies and within our mentorship network to find out exactly what they're looking for in cover letters. Giving you an easy simple four-step guide on how to write the perfect cover letter. But the first, the basics.

Less is more 📃

Try to keep it to one page only. Recruiters go through a lot of these letters and often get turned off as they start creeping onto a second and sometimes third page. You should be able to put together three or four paragraphs at most stating clearly what the vacancy is, how you heard of it, why the role/company interests you and why you would be a good fit.

Formatting 🔤

Write it as a professional business letter with your address as the top right and the company address at the top left.

Address it to a specific person rather than “Dear Sir or Madam”. A quick search on LinkedIn will establish who is in charge of recruitment. Make sure you get names, addresses, and titles exactly right — sloppy formatting makes a bad impression. Also, your closing salutation when you have addressed a letter directly to an individual is “yours sincerely”.

Also, it goes without saying but check spelling, typos, overall appearance and ask someone to proofread your cover letter before you send it off.

Paragraph #1 — Get to the point 🎯

Your opening paragraph should specify why you are writing and should also refer to your degree course and results expected/gained.

e.g ”I have recently graduated with a 2.1 Honours Degree in Marketing at Technological University Dublin and am very interested in the position of Marketing Executive as advertised on LinkedIn”

Paragraph #2 — Why them? 🌐

It’s crucial to tailor your letter to each particular job or company to which you apply. Why do you want to work for that particular company? You should state that you are very interested in working for them and give the reasons why — using this as an opportunity to show that you have done your research.

Explain why you are interested in the job, highlighting your strengths, your understanding of the work involved, how well suited you are to it. Vague statements like “I want to work for you because you have a good reputation” won’t impress an employer.

Demonstrate your knowledge of the company — look them up online, visit their website, talk to people you know who might work there. If you’re specific in your reasons for wanting to be a part of their team it will show that you have done your research and used your initiative which is something every employer is looking for in new recruits.

Paragraph #3 — Why you? 🙋🏻‍♂️🙋🏼

Don’t simply mindlessly repeat what is said on your CV, but draw attention to your most relevant qualifications, experience, and skills as they relate to the position for which you are applying.

Why do you want that particular job? Why should they employ you? What do you have to offer? Do you have a unique selling point that will make you stand out from other candidates? Read the job description carefully and draw attention to the most recent and relevant examples of your ability to do the job.

You can include relevant examples of your work experience, relevant college modules, project work as well as personal skills developed through work experience and interests. You may also wish to include some of your personal qualities that are an integral part of the role.

Examples

  1. “As you will see from my attached CV, I have gained experience in…..”
  2. “My summer work experience in ….has given me an insight into………”
  3. “I see that this position offers… In respect to this, one of my key strengths is the ability to… I recently demonstrated this quality through…”

Paragraph #4 — Closing the show 📝

Close your letter with a statement that you would like to discuss employment opportunities and that you look forward to hearing from them.

Avoid apologetic endings like “thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Sorry to have bothered you”. You need to end on a strong positive note and move matters forward by indicating your availability for interview.

e.g. “I'm available to attend an interview at any convenient time. Looking forward to hearing from you.”