It’s a Cover Letter not a Love Letter


When writing an effective cover letter it has often been said to treat it like a love letter. In other words, you should portray to the employer that you are the perfect match for their organization, and that without your unique skills and distinct experiences the company could simply not go on. However, it isn’t uncommon for many people to take this advice literally and as a result produce something similar to the below.

Dear Ms. Ingrid Ible.

I am writing to apply for the above role as advertised in my dreams.

Having researched the deepest needs and desires of your company, my passion for this role cannot be contained anymore and I have come to the realization that I have found The One. From the moment that I was born I have always known that working for your company is my ultimate destiny and therefore I have been perfecting my skills for your benefit ever since. My skills in intimate interaction and people-pleasing would allow me to successfully interact intimately and please people within your company. As a result I fear that your organisation will be incomplete until we are united.

Safe in the knowledge that my heart has forever been devoted to your company, I know that my future participation in your firm is fundamental to the success and happiness of all members of your team. I excitedly await your call.

Yours deeply,

Miss. Hope lessly-devoted

I think I’d be a little creeped out if I received an email like this from a complete stranger. When writing a cover letter the trick is to find a balance – highlight your passion and suitability to the role whilst not making out (or letting on!) that you are stalking the employer. Below I’ve listed a few useful tips to follow when constructing your covering letter.

Sell yourself!

Think of your cover letter as a marketing document. By showcasing your best assets, skills and experiences and explicitly aligning these with the role you can demonstrate clearly how you would fit within the company. However, many students hold back when selling themselves and underestimate the value of their experiences. Don’t be afraid to oversell yourself and capitalize on every experience that has allowed you to develop both personally and professionally. Whether you’ve completed one day volunteering at a church before realizing that it’s not for you, or you spent a whole year working as a waiter in your local bar, you will have learnt something from these experiences and in turn developed skills that you can highlight in your cover letter.

Evidence your skills

So you’ve read the job description and the person specification and you realise that you have everything that the employer is looking for – Great news! You start to write your cover letter and talk about your excellent leadership, communication skills, organizational skills, time-management skills, ability to use your initiative etc etc etc. So you’ve ticked all the boxes! Not quite. Where did you gain these skills from? How can you prove what you’re saying? Consistently using unsupported and subjective claims are likely to become annoying and won’t entice the employer to read more about you in your CV. A good way to remember what to include is to follow the simply ‘CAR’ method:

Context – what was the situation, where were you?

Action – what did YOU do?

Result – what was the outcome? Was it a success? What skills did you develop?

Example: “Leadership sills developed through leading a team of five in a project work at University. I designed a project plan, assigned roles to team members and made sure we developed the project to deadline”

Research the Company

In most cases your Cover Letter will be the first point of contact with the employer so it is crucial that you establish a positive and professional tone from the outset. Remember, you don’t get a second chance to create a first impression so think carefully about how you choose to portray yourself and your knowledge of the company. Do your research on the company by visiting their website, google them to see if they have appeared in any news articles lately and visit their social media profiles to see their recent updates. By doing this not only will you enhance your knowledge of the company but you will generate a greater understanding of how your personal values and motivations align with the company culture and lend well to the role.

A Few Tips on Formatting

Below are a few pointers on formatting that often get overlooked.
■ Don’t overcrowd the page, aim for around four paragraphs.
■ Remember to use ‘Yours sincerely’ if you have used the person’s name at the top of the letter (Dear Mr, Mrs, Ms Bloggs), and ‘Yours faithfully’ if you have started the letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
■ Don’t introduce anything in your cover letter that isn’t included in your CV.
■ Your cover letter is just a snapshop of your CV so try to be succinct and don’t repeat what is written in your CV word for word.

For an idea of how a cover letter should look and a break-down of the individual paragraphs and what they should cover, please visit the Careers website

Need More Help?

If you are having difficulty writing your Cover Letter then you can look through a whole range of useful resources on our website on the student portal as mentioned above. Additionally, if you would like to get some advice or a second opinion on your Cover Letter then you can book an appointment with a careers adviser on 02477652011 or visiting us on the first floor of the Hub building.

Michelle 🙂


Posted on February 14, 2013, in Application advice, Cover letters, Graduates and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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