Prospective employers will likely have to sort through dozens, if not hundreds, of applications. If your CV manages to catch their eye, the next place they will look is your covering letter, and you should consider it an expansion of your CV.
While there are plenty of templates available online, we advise graduates to take the time to write their own. Not only will this help you stand out from the stack of applicants who are using form letters, it will give you the opportunity to review your skills in relation to each position - something which will come in handy further down the line when you start getting called in for interviews.
Your covering letter should contain the following information:
At the top of the letter, you should include the company's name, address, and contact information. If you know the name of the person receiving applications, include it here, and if you don't, try giving the company a call to see if you can find out. It seems simple, but going to the trouble to properly format your covering letter as a business document shows your skills in action.
Employers may be recruiting for several positions, so make sure the position you are interested in is stated clearly near the top of your letter.
Make use of the list you made in our identifying skills section, or look back at what you included on your CV. Expand upon those skills and relate them directly back to the job description. Include information about your degree and relevant skills learned during your time at university, and do likewise for any pertinent work experience.
Here is your chance to tell your prospective employer why you would be a better choice than any other applicant. What are your long-term career goals, and how do the match up with the company's long-term goals? If you can show how those two things are related, an employer will be much more likely to call you in for an interview.
Tell the company why you want to do that job, and why you want to do it with them. Let your passion for the work come through.
It always helps to have someone with experience look your CV and Covering Letters over. Your university careers service should be happy to help with that.