Counselling and Career Development

Cover letters and application forms

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

A good cover letter will persuade the reader to take a further look at your application (including your CV). The aim of the cover letter is to introduce yourself and to convince an employer that they should interview you.

Tips about writing a cover letter

  • Print or write your letter on white A4 paper.
  • Write clearly and to the point - one A4 page is enough.
  • If you know the name of the recruiter, you should end the letter with "Yours sincerely" and your name and signature. If you do not know the name of the recruiter, you should end the letter with "Yours faithfully" and your name and signature.
  • Check the letter for content, spelling and grammar - if you feel unsure, ask someone else to read the letter and comment.
  • Always keep a copy of the letter.

Structure for a cover letter

Introduction What job are you applying for and where you heard about the job. If you are writing speculatively (in other words, not in response to a specific advertisement), then you should indicate what kind of position you are seeking
Paragraph 2 Give a short overview of your strengths and most relevant attributes, for example, academic qualifications, work experience, skills, interests, referring the employer to the detail on your CV or application form.
Paragraph 3 Make the link between what you can offer in terms of skills and experience and the organisation's requirements which you have identified. Show why you want a particular job. Demonstrate knowledge of the organisation by referring to aspects which interest you, for example, products, services, and opportunities for staff development.
Conclusion Close the letter on a positive, confident note offering to supply more information if required.

Tips for application forms

  • Read the form carefully before you complete it.
  • Complete the form in full - even if the information is on your CV that you included.
  • Always use a blue or black pen, or type in the answers.
  • Write neatly and clearly.
  • Answer all the questions - if a question does not apply to you, write Not Applicable or N/A.
  • Don't fill in areas marked "For office use".
  • After completing the form, read and check your answers.
  • If you make a mistake and you do not have another form, neatly correct it.
  • Sign the form, if asked to do so.
  • Remember to include all documents as requested on the form.