Your Cover Letter is Your First Chance to Make a Great Impression
A CV cover letter shows that you understand the role’s responsibilities while highlighting relevant achievements and experience.
The average recruiter spends just 6 seconds looking at a detailed CV, so learning how to write a cover letter is vital to increase your chances.
Do you have to write a cover letter?
If you want to stand out and get the job, then yes you have to write a cover letter. It:
- Demonstrates a professional and thorough approach.
- Helps beat an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
- Shows who you are past your CV.
As BluZinc CEO Jonathan Pearson says: “When a CV is awesome, we look at the cover letter. If the cover letter is concise, professional, and highlights achievements directly related to the job - we love them.”
Whom do you address a cover letter to?
A cover letter should be addressed to the person responsible for recruiting a particular position. Find this name by checking the company website in search of an HR representative.
If you can't find a name, use our cover letter builder and choose a generic opener selected by the experts.
How to Write a Cover Letter
Your top questions answered
An effective cover letter needs to capture everything you have to offer a recruiter in one short, high-impact document. The answers to the following questions will explain exactly how to write a cover letter that will advance your career.
Do I really need a cover letter?
A cover letter shows you're professional and thorough, and encourages a recruiter to spend more time looking through your CV. By using a CV and cover letter builder you can create a pair of documents that work together seamlessly.
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
You could think of your cover letter as being the starter that sets up the main course of your CV. It should achieve the following in as short a space as possible:
- Introduce you.
- Showcase your skills and achievements.
- Demonstrate that you understand the company, the position, and what you could bring to it.
- Demonstrate a thorough, professional, and well-organised approach.
- Make the recruiter want to read your CV to learn more about you.
How long should my cover letter be?
As a general rule, a cover letter should be less than one side of A4 paper. A recruiter will have to look through hundreds of cover letters for most jobs advertised, so anything longer will be discarded as too time-consuming.
Exceptions to this may include cover letters dealing with executive or managerial positions, in which a slightly longer summary of career achievements might be expected.
How do I structure my cover letter?
Although every cover letter is unique, the basic structure should always include the following:
- Your contact details.
- An opening paragraph explaining why you’re writing.
- A paragraph or two outlining relevant qualifications and work experience.
- A paragraph pointing out that your CV accompanies the cover letter and contains more details.
- A positive sign-off restating your suitability for the post.
- Your signature.
How do I write a strong opening statement?
A strong opening statement gets to the point. Don’t waste time telling the recruiter your name. Explain which position you’re applying for, and why you're applying. By stating your intentions clearly, you’ll convince a recruiter that you're worth their attention.
How do I write a strong closing paragraph?
The closing paragraph of your cover letter has three main aims:
- Thank the reader for the time they’ve spent reading.
- Restate and underline your interest in the position in question.
- Include a positive call to action. Mention the CV and state that you’re available to answer any questions, or you’re looking forward to being called in for an interview.
How can I best showcase my achievements?
Your achievements should be included in your CV already, but you can reference them in your cover letter with actual metrics and a brief story.
Choose just one or two achievements that are highly relevant to the position in question, and spend a maximum of one to two sentences on them.
Can an online cover letter builder help me write a great cover letter?
Yes! If you’re wondering how to write a cover letter, then an online cover letter builder will provide all the answers, using templates, automated content, and user-friendly editing tools to create a cover letter that’s up to current industry standards, but also personal and unique.
How can cover letter examples help me to write a better cover letter?
Our cover letter examples were produced by experts in their field, using templates and content with a track record of success. The best way to find out how to write a cover letter is to see how people have done it before.
How do I choose a cover letter template?
The cover letter template you choose should be suited to your industry. Look at other examples of cover letters from the same industry to see if the template you’re using is a close match.
How should my cover letter relate to my CV?
Your cover letter should be a summary of your CV but don't be too repetitive. It should reiterate the best points of your overall CV and explain briefly how they relate to the position in question.
What are the biggest mistakes that jobseekers make when they write their cover letters?
Avoid these cover letter writing mistakes:
- Not researching the role, company, and their plans for the future.
- Using clichés, like ‘team player’ and ‘hard-working’.
- Too much information – this isn’t the place to include every single achievement. Include only relevant experiences.
What topics should I avoid in my cover letter?
Your cover letter is not the place to discuss your salary expectations, notice period, negative comments about your current position, or details of your personal life.
How formal should my cover letter be?
Be careful with formality. Find the right balance between professionalism and personality. Use industry-appropriate language but still include a friendly, engaged, and enthusiastic attitude in your writing.
How important is spelling and grammar?
Extremely. A single spelling or grammar mistake can cost you the interview. Double-check your writing multiple times and ask someone else to proofread it for you.
I’ve got gaps in my work experience. Do I mention these in the cover letter?
The cover letter isn’t the place to cover your entire work history, so any gaps may not be apparent.
If the gaps are clear on your CV, this is a chance to mention and honestly explain them, for example, state that you were ‘taking the time to refocus my career aims’ or ‘focusing on family life’. A recruiter will prefer honesty to any perceived attempt to hide a gap.
I have no experience – what can I write?
Focus on transferable skills. If you’ve run a household, for example, you can demonstrate knowledge of budgeting, time management, and more. Enclose unpaid or paid experience related to the position.
How do I write a cover letter for a job that may not exist?
If the job doesn't exist, show your understanding of the organisation and what it might need, as well as a summary of your achievements, skills, and experience. The aim of this 'speculative' cover letter is to make an employer interested in you.
Should I use tricks to make my cover letter stand out, like fancy fonts or unusual content?
No. While some professions appreciate a creative approach, your cover letter is not the place to show it. A clear layout, professional template, and well-written content will most likely appeal to recruiters. Too much visual ‘noise’ prevents the message from getting across.
Should I create a visual or video cover letter instead of a text-based cover letter?
This is not the best approach for most industries and goes against basic career advice.
Even if you don’t know how to write a cover letter, you can use an online cover letter builder to create a text-based document that improves your applications and your chances.
Do I need to write a new cover letter for each job I apply for?
Yes. The cover letter for each application should be tailored to each role. Your cover letter should reflect the research you do on the organisation, including the tone and voice they use in written communications, and speak directly to each employer.
I’m sending an email. Do I really need a cover letter?
Yes. Your email is a formality, where a letter formally introduces you and your interest. It will also demonstrate a commitment to getting the job, and a detailed, professional approach.
Which contact details should I include in my cover letter?
Your contact details should include your city of residence and current phone number. If you use a landline and mobile phone, then it might be best to include both to reduce the chances of missing a call. Ensure that both your email address and voicemail recording are professional.
Think about which social media profiles to include, like LinkedIn, and consider turning personal social media profiles to private.
How should my cover letter relate to my CV?
Your cover letter should complement your CV by filling in the gaps. The letter should take your strongest achievements and skills, and highlight them. Both documents make up a strong job application.
Get Inspired By Successful UK Cover Letter Examples
They don't teach how to write a strong cover letter in school. A guaranteed way of learning more about how to write a successful letter is to look at proven examples created by experts. These tried and trusted sample letters show just the kind of standard you should aim for.
How to write a UK cover letter
A UK cover letter needs to have a strong opening, a brief summary of your strengths, and a clear and appealing template. Combine all of this with your own words for the perfect introduction to recruiters.
How to write a good cover letter
To write a good cover letter you need to ask yourself exactly what the position in question is looking for and how your profile matches those requirements. Use facts and figures to illustrate your achievements.
How to write a cover letter for retail
A retail recruiter will be looking for experience of working with the public and an understanding of the demands of the retail sector. Your cover letter should explain that you understand these demands in a clear and concise manner.
How to write a speculative cover letter
Making a speculative approach without a specific post in mind involves creating a cover letter that sells you as a strong candidate with a wide range of skills. Highlight the achievements that you think would be transferable across a range of positions.
How to write a great cover letter
A great cover letter needs to include the keywords that any recruiter or ATS will be looking for. Study the job description to find these keywords and use them sparingly in a way that flows naturally with the rest of your content.
How to write a cover letter for an internship
An internship cover letter should include details that show you’ve researched the organisation in question and have a passion for the wider industry. Explain that you understand the way they work, and set out what you could offer them, with reference to any relevant academic qualifications.
How to write a general cover letter
A general cover letter should include your strongest and most transferable skills. The template should look professional, and bullet points and lists can be used to convey information quickly and clearly.
How to write a cover letter for a graduate position
Writing a graduate cover letter involves detailing your educational achievements and publications in a clear and concise manner. The tone of voice used and selection of keywords should also indicate you’ve researched the organisation you’re contacting.
How to write a cover letter for a legal job
When you write a legal cover letter you need to include the relevant qualifications and any key experience. If the role requires a practicing certificate, you should mention that you have one. The language used needs to be clear and concise and the layout based on a professional industry template.
How to write a successful cover letter
A successful cover letter should make the recruiter want to learn more. In less than one side of A4 it should show that you understand what they need, and explain why you’re the person to offer it. Back up any claims with concrete facts and figures.
How to write a cover letter for a professional position
A professional cover letter needs to use a template developed by experts and tested in the real world. It should be set out clearly and concisely, and only include information that’s relevant to the position being applied for.
How to write a cover letter for a law job
Applying for a law position will call for attention to detail, a professional approach, and the right qualifications. If the role requires a practicing certificate, you should mention that you have one. A cover letter with the right template will include all of this, plus the experience needed to sell you as the perfect candidate.
How to write a short cover letter
A cover letter needs to be short to hold the attention of a recruiter. The ideal length is one side of A4 divided into three or four paragraphs. Only include the key achievements from your CV, don’t mention irrelevant personal details, and use lists and bullet points to summarise.
How to write a cover letter for teaching
Any cover letter needs to be checked carefully for spelling and grammar mistakes, but especially one written for a teaching position. The relevant qualifications and experience need to be expressed with brevity, and the right keywords should be used.
How to write a cover letter for a creative position
A creative cover letter should use a professional template designed to be visually appealing but still clear and concise. It should highlight a key creative achievement and use keywords the job description is looking for.
How to write a cover letter for a business position
Above all, a business cover letter needs to look professional, using a tried and tested template. Any achievements listed need to be supported with key metrics, and the closing paragraph should be a positive call for the recruiter to learn more.
How to write a perfect cover letter
A perfect cover letter should show that you understand the job, have the skills it calls for, and have taken the time to research the organisation. It should use a clear and concise template, and be less than one page long.
How to write a cover letter for a job in fashion
Although fashion is a creative field, the cover letter still needs to look clean and professional. The most relevant work you’ve done should be highlighted with accompanying metrics, and the closing paragraph should capture your enthusiastic approach.
How to write a cover letter for a bar job
A cover letter for a bar job should open with a paragraph explaining how you know what the job entails, and how to deliver it. Previous experience should be listed briefly, as well as keywords that indicate you understand the hospitality sector.
How to write a winning cover letter
A winning cover letter leaves the recruiter wanting to find out more. A professional template sets the information out in a clear manner, and the details listed are those that are relevant to the position in question.
What Recruiters Expect From a Cover Letter
Although you may not eventually report to a recruiter when you get your new job, they’re the person your cover letter must appeal to. They look for:
- A clear document, using a professional cover letter template. One that uses separate sections encourages skimming and makes key points easy to find.
- Keywords relevant to the position in question. If a recruiter or ATS can’t find these keywords, nobody will read further.
- A clear and convincing description of who you are, what you offer, and how these fit with the role.
- Details of related work experience and high level skills.
- Clear and updated contact information.
Knowing How to Write a Cover Letter Could Win You the Job
An effective cover letter opens doors
Writing a cover letter means you get to present your suitability for a job to the recruiter at the earliest possible opportunity. And because it’s short, every word counts.
Our cover letter builder ensures that your letter is customised to the industry and can be skim-read easily. Build a strong cover letter and you’re one step closer to a brilliant new job.