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Career Planning & Employability

Applications: Cover Letters

Cover letters can be quite tricky. It can be very difficult to know what to put in a cover letter. Do you address every point in the job description? Do you repeat what you put in your CV? How long should it be?

There’s no one size fits all, and the answers to these questions do vary, but there are some principles you can use to help guide you.

Generally speaking, a cover letter does three things. It tells an employer:

  • Who you are and what you want – this can be as simple as “I am a graduate from Salford University, having studied Mechanical Engineering I am seeking a role in an Engineering firm that allows me to develop m skills further while making a significant impact on the company.
  • What specific skills or knowledge you have that’s relevant – here you would expand on things you have put in your CV – During my degree, I was fortunate enough to undertake a placement at Sodia Engineering, where I developed a strong attention to detail, time management etc.
  • Why you want it from that company – this is where you show you have done some research, more than just looking at a company’s website. Look at their Social Media, look at how they’ve been in the news if at all, and how that motivates you to want to work for them. What separates them from other employers in the sector?

An example to give you an idea would be something like this:

You can see here that each paragraph sticks to that formula – they make a point, then move on to the next section. This is the best strategy, keep it short and to the point (no more than one page) and include the three key sections above. It also does need to be set out like a letter; even if you are sending it as an email attachment, they will still expect it to be set out like this.

And that is all there is to it. Sounds simple, and in some ways,  it is, but it can trip you up if you go off-piste or just aren’t sure what they are after. If you are unsure, get a draft done and send it to the careers service to be reviewed here: careers&enterprise@salford.ac.uk

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