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Cover Letters

Cover letters give you the opportunity to show your enthusiasm and suitability for an opportunity.

The Careers Portal has learning pathways / resources to help you build your Cover Letter:

Download our in-depth guide to writing effective cover letters.

Cover Letter Types

There are a number of types of cover letter:

Accordion

  • Standard

    Your cover letter should entice employers to read your CV and show how well you express yourself

    With this in mind you need to make sure that you don't just repeat your CV or give rambling explanations. Instead use your cover letter to focus on your skills and experience, saving your qualifications for your CV. You should double check what you’ve written as spelling mistakes or lack of attention to detail will put your cover letter straight on the no pile.

    Many employers still expect a cover letter with a CV, so the wise job-seeker should know how to create a cover letter that will grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager and make them want to read the accompanying CV or application.

    This learning path explains how to plan, write and follow up on your cover letter.

    View an example of a standard cover letter from Prospects.

  • Speculative

    In highly competitive industries not all jobs are advertised, a speculative application helps you to proactively find these roles

    In the opening paragraph explain what sort of role you’re looking for. Then move on to show you’ve done your research by explaining why you’re attracted to the company. Next you need to talk about the skills and experience you have gained that are relevant to the company and the role. It’s best to show that you’re an all-rounder so don’t restrict yourself by focusing on one skill or area. Finally, you should end on a positive note.

    Many employers still expect a cover letter with a CV, so the wise job-seeker should know how to create a cover letter that will grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager and make them want to read the accompanying CV or application.

    This learning path explains how to plan, write and follow up on your cover letter.

    View an example of a speculative cover letter from Prospects.

Advice

Tab Content: No experience

If you haven't got any directly related work experience then you'll need to think of other ways to sell yourself in your cover letter First of all you could talk about your degree, listing any relevant modules, and say what you learned that will help you in this job.

Next mention any part-time jobs you've had and the skills you've gained. While it may not always seem relevant to the job you're applying for it will show employers that you have some knowledge of the working world.

You can also use your graduate cover letter to mention any clubs and societies you're part of or any hobbies you have. Explain what's involved and the skills you've learned. This will show employers that there's more to you than just your qualifications.

Many employers still expect a cover letter with a CV, so the wise job-seeker should know how to create a cover letter that will grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager and make them want to read the accompanying CV or application.

This learning path explains how to plan, write and follow up on your cover letter.

View an example. 

Tab Content: Changing career

Begin with a statement about why you want to change career. Mention your current/previous career and your main reasons for wanting a change. Keep it brief as you can go into more detail if invited to interview.

Next move on to discuss the range of your past experience, linking this to the job and company where possible. It's important to highlight skills that all employers are interested in and demonstrate, with relevant examples, how your knowledge and experience matches that listed in the job description/person specification.

If you have any professional or additional qualifications from your previous career that may be useful or relevant to your new career path, be sure to mention these.

Also include a positive statement about what attracted you to the particular job and employer and show knowledge of what the company does.

To finish, outline how you can contribute to the organisation.

This learning path explains how to plan, write and follow up on your cover letter.

View an example.

Tab Content: Master's degree

This is your chance to explain what your Master's degree has taught you and how it will help with the job you're applying for

Employers don't always distinguish between a Master's and Bachelors degree when recruiting. They may value the additional maturity, but it’s up to you to explain in your cover letter what skills and knowledge you have gained through this higher qualification.

Present yourself in terms of the extra abilities you have and how this relates to your career goals. A Master's also needs to be complemented by relevant work experience, so make sure you mention any details of this.

Many employers still expect a cover letter with a CV, so the wise job-seeker should know how to create a cover letter that will grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager and make them want to read the accompanying CV or application.

This learning path explains how to plan, write and follow up on your cover letter. 

View an example.

Tab Content: International students

International students and graduates applying to work in the UK may need to include additional information in their cover letters. This should cover comparability of qualifications and whether you have the legal right to work here. 

You'll need to make sure you go through the correct visa procedures and obtain any work permits that are applicable to the country you wish to work in. Find out more information about working in the UK here.

Most countries will recognise UK qualifications, but you should check to see if there are any comparisons you might need to refer to in your cover letter.

Like in any other cover letter you'll need to highlight your relevant skills and experience and outline how these are linked to the advertised position.

Do some research when writing your cover letter and CV, to ensure that you include everything required by employers in the region of the world where you'd like to work.

This learning path explains how to plan, write and follow up on your cover letter.

View an example.

Tab Content: Explaining a CV gap

You must always explain any large gaps in your CV and your cover letter is the place to do so

This is so a potential employer doesn’t misinterpret a break in your career history. If you approach it positively, it shouldn't be an issue.

Reasons for gaps in your CV include:

  • Going on a gap year
  • Having children
  • Caring for a sick relative
  • Suffering from a recurring medical condition
  • Redundancy

You should talk about the gap in the third or fourth paragraph explaining what you did and the skills you've learned. Finish by demonstrating your enthusiasm for the position and add that you’re now ready to focus on your career.

Many employers still expect a cover letter with a CV, so the wise job-seeker should know how to create a cover letter that will grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager and make them want to read the accompanying CV or application.

This learning path explains how to plan, write and follow up on your cover letter.

View an example.

Get your cover letter reviewed / checked

Come along to a drop-in session in The Base, and we will support you with checking your cover letter.

Drop-ins run on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 16:00.

Outside of term time drop-in sessions will be limited depending on demand.

You can also submit your cover letter to be checked via Ask Careers.