First impressions count, which is why crafting a winning cover letter is an essential part of any job application. Your cover letter (or cover email) will often be the first thing a recruiter will read. So, grab their attention from the start, engage with them, and encourage them to look favourably on the rest of your application. Show them that you are the best fit for the role they have advertised and you’ll soon be opening the door to an interview.

Here are our ten top tips for writing a winning cover letter:

  1. Make it look good
    Type your letter in a clear, readable font, such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman in 11 or 12 point. You don’t need to write an essay; ideally, you should aim for a maximum of one A4 page, broken into 3 or 4 paragraphs, unless the job ad states otherwise.

  2. Personalise your letter
    It may seem obvious but make sure you address your letter to the right person. Check the job ad, do a little research online or pick up the phone to find out who the relevant contact is.

  3. Specify the role
    Start with a one-liner stating which job you are applying for and where you have seen it advertised. Recruiters are often dealing with multiple vacancies and this helps them to put your application in context. Then follow up by briefly stating why you would be a good fit for the role.

  4. Show a genuine interest in the company
    Highlight what appeals to you about working at the company and why. Check out the company website and media coverage for more info; tap into personal contacts or look at reviews on sites like Glassdoor for the inside scoop. Perhaps you are attracted by the company culture or reputation, or their products or services. Select a few and show you’ve done your research.

  5. Sell yourself
    Demonstrate that you are the ideal candidate for the role. Pick out key words from the job description and show that you meet all the requirements of the role. Focus on relevant skills and experience – what you’ve achieved and how – as well as any necessary qualifications. And ensure you mention other skills that would be useful in the position.

  6. Reinforce your interest
    Finish your letter with a ‘call to action’ inviting your recruiter to check out your resume and contact you for an interview. This demonstrates your enthusiasm for the role and interest in moving to the next stage of the selection process.

  7. Say thank you
    Again, this may seem obvious, but never underestimate the power of a simple ‘thank you for your time’. You want to leave your recruiter with a positive impression of you as a potential applicant.

  8. Provide your personal details
    Make sure you provide your personal details (full name, email and contact telephone number) in your cover letter, so your recruiter has everything to hand.

  9. Proofread your prose
    Spellcheck your letter and then ask an eagle-eyed friend, family member or neighbour to proofread it before you send it. You’ll be amazed at what they might find.

  10. Follow-up on your application
    Move your cover letter to the top of the pile by emailing your recruiter a week after submitting your application, or calling if a number is provided in the job ad. But keep it brief, and resist the temptation to keep calling, no matter how much you want the job.

We hope you’ve found our ten top tips useful. Now, over to you to craft that winning cover letter.

Good luck!