Jobseekers Guide – Cover Letters

Cover letters are a basic requirement for most jobs, which is why it is so important to know exactly what a good one looks like. There are many examples on our website but here is a brief guide to prepare the perfect cover letter and CV for any job:

Writing a Good Cover Letter

A cover letter enables you to express your interest in a particular job and organisation, to highlight your main skills and attributes, and to match these to the employer’s selection criteria. You can explain which opportunity you are seeking, express your enthusiasm for the role, and demonstrate how you will make a contribution. Keep a draft copy of your cover letter and change it for each job you apply for.

Here are a number of tips for writing a good cover letter:

  • Avoid rewriting your CV in your cover letter. Highlight specific things about your experience and how it relates to the position you are applying for.
  • Keep it simple. Avoid long, drawn out sentences with complicated vocabulary.
  • Limit your cover letter to one page with three to five targeted paragraphs.
  • Use some of the words included in the job description when writing a cover letter.
  • Proofread your letter. Have colleagues/ friends check for mistakes.

cover letter

How to write the cover letter

Salutation, Name, Title, Address, & Date

  • Put your name and address, at the top right hand corner of your cover letter.
  • Put the recipient’s name and address further down the left hand side of the page.
  • Address the person by name, rather than using ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
  • Underline the position you are applying for or begin it with ‘Re:’, and include the job reference number (if there is one).

Opening Paragraph

  • Introduce yourself and clearly explain the opportunity you are seeking.
  • Avoid using long words, long sentences and complicated phrases. Stick to language you would normally use when talking to an employer.

Middle Paragraphs

  • Demonstrate that your knowledge, skills and experience meet the job selection criteria.
  • Show that you understand the employer’s expectations.
  • Demonstrate that you can make a significant contribution to the organisation.
  • This section of your cover letter is critical. You have to present yourself in the best possible light, without exaggerating.

Last paragraph and sign-off

  • This section is where you express your desire for an interview.
  • Close with a strong reminder of why you are a good match for the job position and the organisation.

A strong cover letter is an essential part of any successful job search. Samples can be found on the Collins McNicholas website and will provide you with excellent templates.

Niamh Cregg

Senior Recruitment Consultant

Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group