by Michael Cheary
So you’ve just spent three years or more completing your degree…
You spend hours perfecting your graduate CV, but how long do you spend writing the accompanying cover letter? The honest answer for many, unfortunately, is not long enough.
Teaming your shiny new CV with a half-hearted attempt at writing a cover letter (or worse, not including one at all) could count against you more than you anticipate.
A cover letter is often the first thing a hiring manager looks at so it’s crucial to get it right. As well as letting your personality shine, it’s also an opportunity to stand out from all the other graduate applicants. And remember, first impressions count.
We’ve already covered how to write a cover letter, but if you’re still feeling frustrated when it comes to the finer details, here’s our cover letter template specifically designed for recent graduates:
Just here for the template? Click the link below:
Download Graduate Cover Letter Template
Opening the letter
The opening paragraph should be short, informative and to the point. Explain what job it is you’re applying for, and where you found the vacancy.
Feel free to mention the website by name (e.g. as advertised on reed.co.uk) or, if someone referred you to the contact, mention their name in this section.
I wish to apply for the role of Graduate Commercial Analyst, currently being advertised on reed.co.uk. Please find enclosed my CV for your consideration.
Second paragraph – Why are you suitable for the job?
Briefly describe your professional and academic qualifications that are relevant to the role and ensure you refer to some of the skills listed in the job description.
Stating your degree classification and the name of your university is optional, but will help to build a more comprehensive background for the reader. And, if any specific qualifications have been mentioned as pre-requisites, stating this now will help confirm your credentials.
As you can see from my attached CV, I have recently completed a three year degree in Economics at Loughborough University, attaining a 2:1, and I believe the knowledge and skills built up during this time make me the perfect candidate for the role.
Third/Fourth paragraph – What can you do for them?
Use practical examples to emphasise what you can do for the company. These might be performance based (if you have some relevant work experience), but will most likely be focussed on your academic career.
Always make sure your examples are as specific and pertinent as possible. If you’ve completed particular modules which may be applicable, this is the point to include them.
It’s also a good place to include any extra-curricular studies or activities which are applicable to the position, or which help reinforce your skills. Examples could be particular books you’ve read around the subject, seminars you’ve attended, or any qualifications undertaken which are outside your degree.
Other examples include outlining your dissertation (e.g. ‘achieved a first class distinction grade in my dissertation on x’), or more quantifiable achievements you may have attained whilst in previous employment or during work experience (e.g. ‘Increased revenue by x%’, ‘drove x% more traffic to the website during my time in employment’, ‘an increase in students grades by x’ etc.)
The position particularly interests me because of my passion for Analytics. During my course, I studied topics such as Econometrics, Accounting & Finance and International Economics, and the mathematical and modelling skills learned from these modules have given me an excellent foundation for building a career as a Commercial Analyst.
Aside from my degree, I have built upon my interest in this field in a number of ways. Recently I have completed my dissertation on architectures for data-intensive analytics, which allowed me to put my theory for the subject into practice. Further, I have also started an online analytics course, which has given me a much more rounded view on the subject.
Fifth paragraph – Reiterate
Here’s where you reiterate your interest in the role and why you would be the right fit for the company.
I am confident that I can bring this level of expertise with me to your organisation and help Online Retail Company LTD build upon their reputation as one of the biggest brand names in the UK. Add to this my passion and enthusiasm for analytics, and I believe my contribution will have an immediate impact on the business.
Closing the letter
Thank the employer for their time. It is also a good opportunity to indicate you’d like to meet with the employer for an interview.
Sign off your cover letter with ‘Yours sincerely’ (if you know the name of the hiring manager)/’Yours faithfully’ (if you do not), and your name.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further.
Remember: Just as with our standard free cover letter template, this is a template, not a ready-made cover letter. Without the proper research into the company advertising the vacancy, and without tailoring it to the role, it will lack the impact for which a cover letter can drastically improve your chances of reaching the interview stage.
And these words hold even more importance when it comes to graduate jobs. Putting the time and effort in to each one will pay dividends, so keep at it. The more research you do and the better written it is, the greater your chance of standing out from the graduate crowd and setting yourself apart.
Still searching for your perfect position? Have a look at all of our current vacancies now
by Michael Cheary
Not sure how to sell your application? We’ve got you covered…
When it comes to finding a new job, cover letters are possibly the most underrated part of the whole application process. Mainly due to the fact that most of us aren’t even 100% sure what they’re actually for.
But a well written cover letter is the perfect way to set yourself apart and help sell your application, not to mention convince a recruiter you’re the right person for the role.
To make sure you stop underestimating yours, here are a few things you should know about cover letters:
Download Free Cover Letter Template
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a document you send with your CV (traditionally as the front cover).
However, it differs from a CV in that instead of being a written overview of your skills and experience, it’s specifically written with the job you’re applying for in mind – allowing you to highlight certain areas you think would make you right for the role.
What should a cover letter include?
Although cover letters are a lot less rigid than CVs, there are still some things you should always aim to include.
Here a few essential things you should aim to cover in your cover letter:
- Your personal details (e.g. name, address, phone number)
- The hiring manager’s name (if you have it)
- Where you found the vacancy
- Why you’re suitable for the job
- What you can do for the company
- Closing statements (including thanking the recruiter for their time)
Free cover letter template
How to write a cover letter
Why is a cover letter important?
To put it simply, your cover letter is the easiest and most effective way to stand out from the crowd.
It brings a something extra to the table when you apply for a job – the employer will learn more about you, your personality, what you actually want from the job and gain insight as to why you’re applying.
And, as your CV is supposed to be short and sweet, your cover letter is the perfect way to elaborate on your achievements.
How should a cover letter be formatted?
Much like a CV, there is no one-size-fits-all format when it comes to writing a cover letter.
However, the layout will say a lot about your approach, and your overall attention to detail. For that reason, it definitely isn’t something that should be underestimated.
To make sure what you write is logical, to the point and easy to read, here are some key rules to follow for your cover letter:
- Be clear and concise
- Keep paragraphs short and direct
- Back up any statements you make with facts & figures
- Choose a professional font
- Check spelling and grammar
- Use a template
Five things you need to stop doing on your cover letter
How long should a cover letter be?
Around half a page of A4 (one page maximum).
It should be a little more in-depth than your CV, but keep it punchy and to the point. Recruiters don’t want your life story.
Do I have to have a cover letter?
You should always submit a cover letter with your CV. No exceptions.*
Not only does it show you’re serious about the job you’re applying for, it also gives you a chance to tailor your application to the role.
Do I need to include research in my cover letter?
Researching the company will definitely help your cause.
Of course, it’s important not to go over the top and end up giving them a full history of their business, but don’t be scared to throw in facts that are relevant.
They’ll be impressed when they see that you’ve actually put a bit of time to one side so that you can learn about the company that you could potentially be working for.
Can I use a cover letter template?
Yes. Yes you can.
Luckily, we know where there are some pretty good ones…
Cover letter templates
*You know, unless you’re specifically told not to. Then you’re officially off the hook.
Still searching for your perfect position? Try our free cover letter template, or view all available jobs now