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Writing a graduate cover letter

Posted by. Tom Benthall
Posted on 17 March 2017

blogs, blogs:Employability

Leeds Trinity University have partnered with recruitment agency, Reed NCFE, to help students secure graduate roles. As part of this partnership, Reed are working with Level 6 Sports Journalism student, Tom Benthall, to provide some handy blogs for students!

In Tom's latest blog, he talks about cover letters and how they can make a difference in helping you stand out to an employer.

Over to Tom:​

I have been wondering whether writing a cover letter is really worth it, as it can be a time consuming process, particularly if you're applying for several jobs at once, and there is sometimes a temptation to just sound out a generic letter with all the applications, or even worse, not to bother at all. 

My verdict​: a cover letter is a must!

A good cover letter can make or break a job application; and that means producing a lett​​er tailored specifically to that job​​, highlighting how much of a good fit you will be and how you match the criteria. 

A reed.co.uk survey of 300 employers found that 4 out of 10 of them disregarded an application straight away if it did​n​'t include a cover letter. Combine that figure with a Telegraph study which revealed there was an average of 39 applications for every graduate job, and you will understand just how important it is to stand out. Your cover letter is your chance to do exactly that. 

But the real question is, how exactly do you go about writing a cover letter?

Firstly, you need a few things with you to make a start:

  • The job description - it's essentially a tick-box exercise, so you need to match up your skills and experience with those required.
  • Access to the company's website. You want them to feel like you really are interested in working for them, and the best way to do this is through showing your knowledge of them and explaining what appeals to you. 
  • Your CV - you should expand on the key skills and experiences mentioned in your CV, but don't just copy and paste the information across!
  • A cover letter template - contact Reed NCFE​ in the Careers office for one of these.
How to structure your cover letter:
  • ​​The intro:
    • ​​​Always address it to a person (if no name is given, ring up and find out).
    • Start with the title of the job you're applying for and where you saw it advertised.
  • Your skills, knowledge and experience:
    • ​​Tell the employer about the skills you have which match up to the skills they're looking for.
    • Give examples of when you have these skills, particularly if you've used them on a placement/work experience in the industry. 
    • Your work experience doesn't have to be directly related to the job you're applying for - think about which skills are transferrable.
    • Provide insight into any relevant university modules or projects. On your CV you might have the name of some of the modules you've covered, but this is your chance to expand and give further detail! Just make sure you link this back to the job role through either related knowledge you built or skills you gained.  
  • Show off your passion for the job and the company:
    • ​Do some research into the organisation and include this, it shows you care enough about the job to have taken the time to do some research.
    • Tell them what specifically appeals to you about their organisation. Some things to take a look at include: about us, their reputation, vision and values, latest news, or big clients they've worked with. 
    • Outline your career goal and how that's relevant to working for the company.
  • The conclusion:​​
    • Reiterate why you want the job, and state that you look forward to hearing from them and that you are happy ​to provide any further information if needed. 
    • Mention your desire for a personal interview and your availability for this.
    • Ensure you sign off correctly with "Yours sincerely" if the recipient's name is stated at the top of the letter and "Yours faithfully" if not.​​
Want any more help crafting the perfect cover letter? Make sure you contact Reed NCFE for anything graduate job related!