What is a cover letter?

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:


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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