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Set yourself apart from the competition by producing positive and relevant cover letters that directly relate to the job you're applying for
A cover letter should always accompany your CV unless you are told otherwise. It allows you to personalise an application and highlight key areas of your CV in more depth.
It can also be called a covering letter.
Keep your cover letter brief, while making sure it emphasises your suitability for the job. It can be broken down into the following sections:
For more information, see our example cover letter.
Always try and address your cover letter directly to the person who will be reading it. Bear in mind that you are more likely to receive a reply if you send it to the right person.
Advertised positions will usually include a contact name, but if not, it is worth taking the time to find out who the letter should be addressed to.
With employers often receiving huge volumes of applications for each vacancy, you need to ensure that your cover letter makes a lasting impression.
Here are some rules you'll need to stick to if you want to increase your chances of success:
A speculative application can sometimes be an effective method of creating a career opening, especially in highly competitive industries.
Carry out some research on the job and the company you are sending your application to. Timing is everything when it comes to the creative career search.
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:
Finish by demonstrating your enthusiasm for the position and add that you are now ready to focus on your career. For an example, see our cover letter explaining a career gap.
You not legally required to disclose a disability.
However, you should not lie and say you don't have a disability if you do, as this could mean you lose any potential job offer. If you choose not to disclose a disability in your cover letter then you can do so at a later stage.
Many overseas job offers are dependent on the applicant already being legally allowed to work and live in the country in question.
If you're planning on working overseas, you'll need to go through the correct visa procedures and obtain any work permits that are applicable to the country you wish to work in. For more details, see working abroad.
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.
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.
If you want to work abroad, take a look at our cover letter of an international student applying for a job in the UK and apply these principles to the country of your choice.
Employers don't always distinguish between a Masters and Bachelors degree when recruiting. They may value the additional maturity, but it is up to you to explain in your covering 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. For ideas of the subject-specific and general skills you may have gained during your studies see what can I do with my degree?
A Masters also needs to be complemented by relevant work experience, so don't pass on the chance to mention any details of this.
To help sell your qualification to employers see our cover letter written by a Masters graduate.
Your covering letter is an opportunity to show employers how well you express yourself and it should entice them to read your CV. If you want to ensure it is as effective as possible, avoid these common mistakes:
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