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Careers Service

Writing a cover letter

Your covering letter acts as the introduction to your application and is your personal sales pitch. Your CV contains the facts, the cover letter is about your motivation and fit for the organisation and role. You have no idea which the employer will look at first so make sure they are both strong.

Use a cover letter with your CV to apply for advertised vacancies (unless the instructions state not to).

Cover letter toolkit

In brief it should cover:

    1. Why you are applying to this company? - What makes them stand out from other similar companies?
    2. Why you are applying for this role? - Your motivation for applying, show your understanding of the role.
    3. The skills and experience you have that match the job description.

Use these to help you get started:

Do

  • Include a date to provide some proof of when it was submitted
  • Keep to a single page. Slight changes to margins and fonts are ok but keep it readable, professional and concise.
  • Provide your contact details. Traditionally your and the company address are at the top of the letter. Digital applications can be more flexible.
  • Go the extra mile. Mention how you research their company. LinkedIn conversations, panel sessions at Careers Fairs, networking with UoM graduates at the company etc
  • Start well. A named contact to start your letter is ideal, but can be hard to source. "Dear Madam or Sir" will work if you need to.

Don't

  • Skip the evidence. Just stating you’ve got the required skills will not be convincing. Provide context for where you developed your skills, and your letter gains more credibility.
  • Be too gushing. Be careful of using over-enthusiastic terms such as “overjoyed”, “ecstatic”, “passionate”when describing your emotions, try to keep to terms you would be happy using in a professional conversation.
  • Forget to mention the company. Do not write the generic application letter. Find reasons why you are applying to that firm, and tell them so.
  • Forget the reference number. Include it as part of your subject line, to make it clear which opportunity you're interested in.
  • End poorly. If you started your letter writing to a named person, you should finish "Yours sincerely". Otherwise is should end "Yours faithfully".

Further resources