Although writing a cover letter might seem daunting, following a basic step-by-step formula will help you make your cover letter note a worthy build-up to your CV.

If you’re stuck and find yourself thinking, ‘How do I write a cover letter?’ remember that each application should be addressed and tailored to suit the specific job you’re applying for. It’s up to you to make sure you demonstrate you’re the right fit for the right job so be sure that you know the qualities they’re looking for because your cover letter is the perfect place to highlight that. It also shows you’ve done your homework which is always a plus.

It takes a bit of digging but it’s worth it- Search through your own career history for specific examples of how you can prove you have what it takes to fulfill a particular role.

For example, the advertisement might say: “This position requires an energetic person with demonstrated capacity to work in a high-pressured environment”. The keywords here are “energetic”, “demonstrated” and “high-pressured”. Telling them that you meet these essential criteria will increase your chances of an interview.

Your cover letter should be in line with your CV by highlighting the most relevant aspects in relation to the position but it’s your chance to give it an edge and personalise it. 

It may only need to be 250 words but don’t rush writing your cover letter. If you don’t impress with the cover letter you are leaving yourself open to being passed over for the job as another candidate had a well-written cover letter – You should make a good impression and fast.

What to include in a cover letter

Here are some things you should include in your cover letter:

  • The basic parts: A header, a salutation, a brief introduction, short but striking paragraphs and an ending and signature.
  • What should the cover letter paragraph contain? Explain how your current role relates to the job advertisement. On the other hand, if you’re transitioning to another industry, make sure to highlight some transferable skills that you learned from past jobs.
  • Communicate your eagerness about joining the position. Believe it or not but your excitement can transcend screens. How you write your cover letter can be as important as what you write in your cover letter.
  • Mention how you can be helpful to their organisation by mentioning details about them. Hiring managers like to see you’ve done your homework.

What to avoid in a cover letter

Now that you know what to include in a cover letter. Let’s look at the list of things you should avoid including in a cover letter

  • Spelling or grammatical mistakes
  • Wrong name of the company or addressee
  • False information about you or past roles
  • Long paragraphs
  • Information that is repeated on your CV
  • Negative feedback about past employers
  • Skills or experiences not relevant to the job

Top tips for writing a cover letter

Recruit Ireland spoke with Career Consultant Paul Mullen on how to write a cover letter. To make it impactful, he gave several tips… 

  • Keep your letter to one page, 250 words maximum. You should have 3 short paragraphs.
  • Don’t start your letter “Please find enclosed a copy of my CV”, that’s how everyone else does it.
  • You MUST tell the reader your motivation in the first paragraph – why you want their job OR why you want to work for their company.
  • Try to write from the heart, not what you think sounds good.
  • I like bullet points in the middle section which sell your suitability. The eye will be drawn to these points.
  • Avoid bland content and generic phrases e.g., I am a good team player.
  • The final paragraph is a sign-off. For example; I’d love the opportunity to meet in person to highlight how I can add value in this role. I’ll make myself available and work around your schedule. Look forward to chatting soon.
  • Don’t be afraid to inject some personality. Remember you are trying to stand out, not just read and sound the same as everything else.

Cover letter examples

Here is an example of a cover letter from a new or fresh graduate:

Dear (Salutation & Name), I would like to express my interest in applying for the position of (job role) that was recently made available in your company. I believe that my degree in (degree name) from (university) has prepared me for this position. In our final project, I have worked on (specific of the project, company or industry and explain how it is connected to the role). I have also volunteered or a leader for (mention extra curricular roles and how it is connected to the job ad). (If possible, mention awards relevant to the role).

If you have any questions about my CV, feel free to contact me at (contact details).

Here is an example of a cover letter from someone working in the same industry:

Dear (Salutation & Name), I would like to express my interest in applying for the position of (job role) that was recently made available in your company. I believe that my experience as (job role) from (company) has prepared me for this position. In my role, I have worked on (specifics of the project and explain how it is connected to the role). (If possible, mention awards relevant to the role).

We hope you learned a lot of tips in writing cover letters and this lands you a job interview. Read our tips on how you can ace that job interview. For more on latest news in the hiring space, make sure you checkout our recruitment news section.

If you are a recent graduate or just someone seeking to explore the job market, make sure to check out the different recruitment opportunities with Recruit Ireland: