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Cover Letter Tips For Graduate Jobs

Cover Letters
When applying for graduate vacancies, the content of your cover letter is just as important as the information provided on your CV. Many graduates are facing stiff competition when applying for any vacancies and, as such, your cover letter must be strong enough to encourage the employer to want to read more about you in your CV.

Here are some basic rules for the preparation of a cover letter and some further advice on the sort of information you should include when applying for a graduate job.

Format and Length

In general, a covering letter should be no longer than one A4 page. The quality of paper and envelope you use is of course very important and should ideally match the CV. Also, letters should always be typed, unless specifically requested otherwise, but should always be signed by hand.
Different Types of Cover Letter
Advert Response Cover Letters

The key to a successful advert response letter is to make sure that you are applying for a graduate vacancy that you are actually suitable for and that matches your own requirements. There is little point applying for a role that you are not qualified or experienced enough to undertake and that does not help you to fulfil your true potential.

Be sure to read the advert carefully so that you can address the letter correctly and mark it for the attention of the designated member of staff. You should also include the job title and any reference numbers given - often, companies will be seeking candidates for various positions and will want to see clearly which job is being applied for.

The first paragraph should be relatively brief and explain where you saw the advert and on what date. The second paragraph should then go on to highlight your skills and experience in more detail. If certain criteria are mentioned in the advert, you should ideally try to explain exactly how you match these with brief but relevant examples that demonstrate your suitability. Also, say why you want to work for that organisation in particular referring to any research that you have carried out on the company to emphasise that you understand the business.

Finally, read through the advert once more to ensure that you have satisfied the criteria before submitting your application, maintaining awareness of the specified closing date.

Speculative Cover Letters

When sending out speculative applications, just as the objective of your CV should, your cover letter should clearly state that you are only looking for suitable graduate vacancies. Even though you are not applying for an advertised position, you should try to demonstrate your knowledge of, and interest in, the company you are writing to. Also, try if possible to address the letter to a person in particular rather than simply writing Dear Sir/Madam. Phone the company in advance to find out whom to address the letter to. If you do not, there is the risk that your letter will simply not be received by the correct person and may even be ignored completely.

The general content of the speculative letter should be the same as with the advert response type.
General Tips
As previously mentioned, graduate vacancies are often hotly contested with many hundreds of applications received for any available positions. As such, your letter should be used to elaborate even further on the information provided in your CV, in particular any extra-curricular activities, that help to show a unique side to your personality such as involvement in societies or clubs. Also, the subject of any dissertation or thesis that you completed may be particularly relevant to the position you are applying for and, whereas the title of the dissertation is usually sufficient for inclusion in the CV, the cover letter can be used to elaborate further on this detailing what you did and what you learnt from it.

Your professional experience is also important so your cover letter can be used to emphasise not only that you have a strong academic background but that you have also managed to undertake voluntary or paid employment during your studies. Whilst the CV usually just details what you did during your employment, the cover letter can then go that one step further by highlighting how you actually benefited as a result. This is particularly useful when talking about any internships or gap year placements that you undertook, as these can often help you to stand out from other applicants due to the unique nature of your experiences.

These job application cover letter tips were produced with the help of The CV Centre to ensure only the most useful and up to date advice was provided.

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