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Graduate Cover Letter

One vital part of the job application process, especially online job applications is the graduate cover letter. This is your real first impression – something beyond a standard form CV – that will let you show off what you can bring to the company and what you’re hoping they can give to you.

But how exactly should you go about writing a cover letter? After all, surely everything important has been said in your CV? Not true! Think of your CV as a list of all the necessary points, and the graduate cover letter as someone taking a highlighting, picking pertinent points, and then writing more about them. You can also highlight things that might not have made it to the CV, but that are still relevant – maybe a particular hobby, or general skill gained outside of work.

Remember, your cover letter shouldn’t be too long, and should be quick and interesting to read. It’s not an essay, it’s a brief introduction to the most important and relevant parts of you. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the basics...

Graduate cover letter examples

Generally, there’s a set way you want to write a cover letter, just as there is with CVs. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be original or unique in the content, just that there are certain things you should aim to get in. Generally the follow pattern is good to follow:

Dear [Name],

Graduate Cover Letter Paragraph expressing interest in the role, where you found the role, and highlighting your attached CV.

Paragraph detailing your skills – those mentioned on the CV, but giving more detail and talking about specific achievements.

Paragraph explaining why the company appeals to you – try to be specific ‘because this particular area...’, rather than a general ‘because it’s a world-leader’.

Conclusion, pointing out again your commitment to the role, and a suggestion for them to get in touch.

Yours Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Method of communication - email/phone/etc]

However, don’t be afraid to change some aspects of this if the job requires it. For instance, a speculative application requires a very different style of opening paragraph, and a graduate cover letter for a more creative job may have a bit more room to break the format. In general though, this is a good template to follow.

An example of this template filled in:

Dear Mr Smith,

I am writing with regards to [job role] advertised on [website]. Please find attached my CV, which shows I have the necessary qualifications and experience in the workplace.

Second paragraph, no work experience

My degree course has prepared me well for this position. During my dissertation, I was required to do a lot of independent research, which required self-motivation, and the ability to organise and work on a long term project. In particular, [module] has helped prepare me by [talk about skills gained].

Second paragraph, add on if have work experience

In addition, I have worked at [company], as [role]. This role required [discuss skills]. In particular, [highlight one example of a specific event/project/incident that required certain skills and what you did].

I’m attracted to this role, because [reasons specific to that company, not general ones] and I hope that I can demonstrate to you that I would be a good fit for this company, with my proven skills, commitment to the role, and enthusiasm to learn.

I am available to start [when?]. Please do get in touch if you have any questions,

Yours sincerely,

Miss Brown


How to write a graduate cover letter

So now we’ve looked at some templates, let’s look at some brief tips on how to write a graduate cover letter:

#1 Point out where your degree is relevant
Don’t just assume having a degree will sell you, instead you need to point out just why it makes you useful. This is slightly easier for say, a marketing job with a marketing degree, but you can work it with any. For instance, applying for a journalist role with a philosophy degree? Point out how you’ve learned to condense lots of information into clear, understandable forms, and how you also touched on things such as politics and scientific ethics.

#2 Don’t be general about skills, give examples
Never just say ‘I am good at communicating’. Everyone says this. Show us how! Did you have a fundraising job and participate in the university’s highest raising campaign? Mention it. Or maybe you worked in customer service and got given more responsibilities due to your skills. Definitely worth saying! Concrete examples of your skills will look much more impressive than a generic ‘I can do [x]’.

#3 Highlight relevant non-paid activities
If you have a non-paid role that taught you relevant skills, throw it in there. Things such as being the treasurer of a society, or volunteering at children’s events can teach you things, and show that you didn’t just do your degree – you made the effort to do additional things too.

#4 Show commitment to the role
Remember – you’re not applying to jobs you’re applying to this particular job. So talk about what you’d like to do with this company, and where you’d like to be in this company – not in general.

#5 Do your research!
Make sure you know about the company, and can point out specifically why you want to work there. No ‘because it’s well-known’. For example, if you’re applying for a role at Lush, it goes without saying that Lush is well known for its ethical campaigning, so rather than saying ‘because Lush is ethical’, you would say ‘because [x] campaign really stood out to me, because [reasons]’. This shows you’re interested in working for them, not just a general company.

Bearing these points in mind, and following the general method shown above, you’ll have a great graduate cover letter in no time.


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