How to Write a Cover Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide for Graduates

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A strong cover letter can make all the difference when it comes to getting your CV noticed. It is your opportunity to introduce yourself and highlight your skills and experience in a way that will catch the eye of potential employers. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps involved in writing an effective cover letter for graduates.

When it comes to writing a cover letter, there are a few key things to keep in mind:

1. Know who you're writing to

First and foremost, you want to make sure that your letter is addressed to the right person. Take the time to research the company you are applying to and find out the name of the person who will be reading your application. Addressing your letter to them by name will immediately make it more personal and give you a leg up over other candidates who have not taken this extra step.

2. Have a strong opening

Tell the graduate recruiter which job you are applying for, where you saw the advert and why you are applying. If the job has a reference number, it is always good to include this here too.

3. Paragraph 1-2: Show them why you're the right candidate

The first paragraph or two should make it clear to the employer why you are well suited to the role you are applying for. Make sure that your cover letter is tailored specifically to the company and position.

Generic letters that are clearly mass-produced are a turn-off for employers and will likely land your application in the trash. Take the time to read through the job listing and include specific examples of your qualifications and experience that match up with what they are looking for. Mix evidence of specific skills and knowledge related to the job with work experience examples and personal skills.

If you're applying for an entry-level role or looking to break into a new industry, then it's fine to refer to work experience that doesn't directly relate to the role you're applying to. It's more important that you show how the skills you've learned in other areas are transferrable to your new position.

If you're not sure which skills to include, go back to the job description and pull out specific keywords and skills that are listed within the candidate profile.

Tip: Try to avoid just copying statements from your CV. Instead, use your cover letter to expand on particular skills and achievements to further highlight your strength as a candidate.

4. Paragraph 3: Tell them why you want to work with them

In the next paragraph of your covering letter, it's a good idea to refer back to the company and explain why you want to work for them. What is it about that employer and role that made you apply?

This is your opportunity to target your cover letter so that the recruiter knows you are interested in them, specifically, and not just mass-sending CVs and cover letters to every role you come across.

Doing some light research on the company will help you define what it is that's drawn you to the company.

Try to avoid generic statements and narrow in on something that is unique to that company, or if you can't find anything about the company, choose an interesting aspect about the role and expand on why you'd like to explore it.

5. The closing

The closing of your cover letter should be just as strong as your opening. Reaffirm your suitability for the role and your enthusiasm about the prospect of working for the employer, and don't forget to prompt them to reach out to you to discuss your application further - either in-person or virtually.

6. Proofread before you send

Next, you want to make sure that your cover letter is well-written and free of any grammar or spelling errors. This may seem like a no-brainer, but with the pressure of applying for jobs, it can be easy to overlook mistakes in your letter. Carefully proofread your letter before sending it off, or even better, ask a friend or family member to read it over for you.

Don't forget to also visit our guide on how to write a good graduate-level CV in order to make your application as strong as it can be.