As we mentioned in our last blog post on CV writing, a well presented resumé with relevant content is key to helping you get a job. For quite a lot of jobs, you will also need to make sure you have a cover letter that accompanies your CV.
What is a cover letter?
A cover introduces your CV, whether you apply for the job by post or email. It allows you to express your enthusiasm for the position and set out the main points that make you a strong candidate. Also, cover letters are mainly written for professional, perhaps salaried positions so you should write them using professional English.
It’s also worth noting that if you are applying for a job in less formal sectors, for example, in hospitality (restaurants, pubs, and hotels) or in retail (shops), you won’t be expected to include a cover letter. Looking at our students who have found jobs, we’d recommend that you go to pubs, shops, etc. in person (at a time of the day and week when they are not busy) and hand them your CV directly.
How to write a good cover letter:
- Make sure that you type each letter using the same font and high quality paper as your CV.
- Be concise. The cover letter should not be longer than one page.
- Take this chance to expand on your CV, and not just repeat what the CV says.
- Personalise and target each cover letter to the position you are applying for. Employers can recognise a mass-produced or general letter and will think it is unprofessional.
- Address your letter to a specific person, e.g., Human Resources Manager. This should increase your chances of a quick response.
- Remember to sign and date your cover letter.
- Use your own words.
- Get someone to check your grammar and vocabulary.
- Send your CV and cover letter as a pdf file, just in case their computer can’t read the file type – e.g., docx, odf, rtf.
How to structure a cover letter!
1) Say what job you’re applying for:
I’m applying for the role of Junior Architect.
2) Where did you see the job advertised? (Was it through a friend? Companies also like to know that their job ad was successful)
I was told about this job through Carlos Silva.
I saw this job advertised on www.gumtree.com.
3) When will you be available to start?
I will be able to start work immediately.
I will be available from the 7th June.
1) Why do you want the job?
I feel I would be suitable for this role because …
2) Why are you interested in this company?
I would like the opportunity to work with your company because …
The third paragraph is the one that needs to get you noticed!
1) Summarise your strengths
I’m an extremely well-organised person which helps me with set goals and work to deadlines both individually and as part of a team.
2) Relate your skills to the competencies required in the job – these are your unique and personal selling points
I have a wide range of experience using the Microsoft suite and I am especially proficient in Microsoft excel.
I volunteered for an NGO which allowed me to develop excellent communication skills.
The last paragraph:
1) Note the dates when you will be available for interview
I will be available for interview from the 1st June.
2) Thank the employer for taking the time to read your letter and CV and say that you look forward to hearing from them soon
I thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I hope to hear from you soon
One last thing…
If you send in your application by email, you say you attach your CV with the cover letter. If you send in your application by post your say you enclose your CV.
Hopefully, these notes will help you structure a clear and concise cover letter. Have a look at the downloadable sample cover letter that we give to our students.
- Atlas Student Cover Letter Template (.pdf version)
- Atlas Student Cover Letter Template (.doc version)
Remember, if you need help with your CV, come along to the Job Shop on Monday afternoon, 2.00pm to 3.30pm. Bring a copy of your CV and cover letter in English as it stands and we’ll give you some suggestions on how to make it better. The Job Shop sessions help you find a job in dublin and are included in our General English and Exam Preparation courses.
Please contact us if you would like to improve your English to give yourself a better chance of finding a job.