How to write a cover letter

We’ve all seen the memes about the frustrations of writing a cover letter for a job, a task that many of us would prefer to avoid. Despite this, a cover letter has many positive aspects, it’s a great opportunity to sell yourself and expand on points and attributes listed on your CV, as well as a further opportunity to delve into who you are and what makes you suitable for the role. Whether you’re looking for an entry level fashion job and are writing your first cover letter or are simply looking to revamp and improve your process, here are our top tips on how to write a cover letter.

  • Keep it succinct – approximately 300 words. You’ve most likely heard the statistic that a hiring manager looks at your CV for approximately two seconds before moving on. Whilst they will spend longer considering a cover letter, a long, wordy document could feel slightly daunting. As a rule of thumb, try to keep it contained to three to four paragraphs.
  • Who to address the letter to – Do your research! Job listings may sometimes include the name of the hiring manager, so, if that’s the case ensure you include this. To go the extra mile to personalise your application, you could also reach out to a talent acquisition partner or the recruiter looking after the role to ask who to address it to. If you’re unable to find the name, you can address it to the ‘Hiring Manager’. Try to avoid saying ‘To Whom it May Concern’, as it may seem a little impersonal.
  • The first paragraph is for introductions. Don’t be as literal as including your name, simply start by stating what role you’re applying for, and a couple of initial reasons as to why the opportunity may have piqued your interest, and some starting points as to why you would suit the role.
  • Next, go into more detail about your experience. Use the job description or advertisement as your guide, lifting key words that are included and how your skills suit these requirements. We all remember ‘point, evidence and explanation’ from writing in school – take this format and utilise it in your cover letter writing!
  • Thirdly, talk a little about the company. Why do you want to work there? Is there any research that you’ve done or any exciting new activity that has drawn you to applying? What is it about the company’s values that you think align with yours – making it a perfect fit?
  • Last paragraph – Tie it all up. Again, you’ll remember from writing in school that a conclusion is not a time to bring up anything new. Firm up your interest in the role and open the opportunity for them to follow up with any questions. Use positive, enthusiastic language to end the experience on a good note.
  • Sign offs – Keep it formal, as you would sign off a work email. ‘Warmest regards’ is a good example of this.
  • Ensure each cover letter is unique – If you’re taking the time to write a cover letter, make it personal. If you’re using the same one for every opportunity it will seem vague and make you less appealing as a candidate. When applying for multiple opportunities in the same role there may be points that are reported, but tailor each one letter to its own place.
  • Keep language formal but consider the company’s tone of voice – The point of a cover letter is that you can show exactly how you’re a good fit, so speaking in the company’s language will immediately portray you in a positive light. However, if it’s a Millennial-directed, younger company whose language is more relaxed, ensure you’re not being overly friendly, the job application process is still a formal one.
  • Remember a cover letter is a two-way street – Whilst this is the perfect opportunity to sell yourself and secure that all-important interview, don’t just speak about yourself through the whole letter. You want to relate the experience required, company’s ethos and your general suitability, but this isn’t a vanity project. Plus, make sure you save some additional golden nuggets for an actual interview – you don’t want to use up all your best information immediately!
  • Proofread, and proofread again – Typos are a huge no-no when it comes to cover letters. Imagine spending all this time curating the perfect piece, only to have a word spelt incorrectly in the first line? This could put your letter straight to the bottom of the pile. Be sure to read over your final draft at the end (even out loud to yourself – trust us, it helps you to ensure that the document flows perfectly). If you have time and a trusted friend or family member, why not get them to also take a look? They may pick up something you’ve missed.