Submit a covering letter with your job application as a way of introducing yourself whilst highlighting your strengths and motivation for applying for the role and company.
How long should they be?
For the vast majority of roles, one page of A4, containing three or four paragraphs.
For academic positions the length of your covering letter can vary depending on the role that you are applying for, though around two sides of A4 is usually appropriate. For senior roles it can be extended to up to five pages.
The covering letter is a professional letter, therefore, use the appropriate greeting and closing e.g. Dear Hiring Manager, Yours sincerely (further information on formal letter writing can be found in the Resources section below).
Wherever possible, it is advisable to address the letter directly to a named contact, check the job advert carefully for a name or give the company a call to find out.
Opening: Introduce yourself and outline why you are applying for the role, where you saw the post advertised and your reasons for applying.
First paragraph: Highlight your interest in working for the company and the role. You may have read an article in the newspaper, analysed their annual report or worked on a relevant topic for a university project. You should talk about the organisation to show that you know what they do; if you cannot find out much about them mention what attracts you to that sector or job area. You can include your career aspirations and how they fit with the company. Do your research and ensure that you tailor the letter specifically to them.
Second paragraph: Read the advertisement carefully and match your relevant knowledge and skills to the areas emphasised in the job description. Pick out your best relevant examples and achievements, letting the employer know how your expertise can benefit them. If you haven't yet got relevant experience, you must highlight your transferable skills / experience.
Closing: Be positive; you are applying for the job or approaching the organisation because you think you can do the job or have something to offer them, so do not be afraid to promote yourself. Summarise your suitability for the position and close by showing your enthusiasm, for example, by saying "I look forward to hearing from you in the near future", followed by the appropriate closing e.g. Yours sincerely.
- Always address a named person where you can
- Proof reading for spelling and grammar is essential - ask friends, family or your careers adviser to read through your final version
- Send a cover letter with all applications, unless you are asked not too
- Tailor your covering letter to the role and company each time, as generic covering letters are easy to spot
- Back up what you say with examples – use the STAR Technique
- Show your enthusiasm!
Gain tips and ideas for writing your covering letter by attending a ‘Writing a Winning CV and Cover Letter’ Masterclass or use our Cover Letter LinkedIn Learning Pathway.
Speak to a careers adviser
Our Careers Advisers are on hand to help. Book an appointment on Advantage or by calling 0161 295 0023 (option 5).
Appointments are available for current students and graduates of the University of Salford only.