Covering Letter Essentials For Graduates

7 Minutes

If you are going through the process of applying for graduate jobs, then you have probably&n...

By Pareto Team


If you are going through the process of applying for graduate jobs, then you have probably realised the frequency in which cover letters are required. While the prospect of writing a cover letter might be daunting at first, one that is expertly written will grab the reader’s attention and boost the quality of your application. Like the other articles on Pareto insights, the idea behind this blog is to provide you with thought provoking career advice.   

What is a covering letter?

A cover letter is a document that is sent as part of a job application. It allows you to introduce yourself to your potential employer, while also giving you an opportunity to add a touch of persuasion to your application. Essentially, it’s a space where you can explain to an employer the reasons why you are the ideal candidate for the role. To do this, you can mention your relevant skills and experience. However, this should be more than an overview, and needs to be specifically tailored to the job that you are applying for.

A cover letter shouldn’t replace a CV, instead, it should be submitted alongside it. Although, you can provide more detail in a cover letter, it still needs to be direct and to the point. Therefore, as a general aim, your cover letter should be around three to five paragraphs in length, and no more than one page of A4 paper. 

How to write a covering letter?

Understandably, applying for graduate jobs can feel like a part time job. However, by crafting an effective cover letter, you increase the odds of your application being progressed. Before you write a covering letter, it’s important that you read the job description thoroughly and research the company. With this attention to detail, you will be able to gather an understanding of a company’s culture and how they operate, as well as discovering who will be reading your cover letter. By doing this, you have more chance of standing out, as the employer will notice that you have made the effort of personalising your cover letter.

To help you write a covering letter, you can search the web for a graduate cover letter template. However, the next part of this article will provide you with an outline of the different sections to include in your cover letter.

The opening paragraph

With the opening lines of your cover letter you need to grab the reader’s attention. Here, you want to avoid sounding too generic, and should aim for a unique tone. Essentially, the opening paragraph is an opportunity to get your personality across, and state which position you are applying for.   

The second paragraph

In the second paragraph it’s time to indicate what your skills and experience are. These should be tailored to match the requirements of the job description, to show the company that you have put effort into this specific application.

After choosing several key skills, you can build an example around each one. From this, you can show how your experience matches the company’s needs.       



The third paragraph

With this next paragraph, you have the chance to expand on why you are suitable for the role. As well as this, you should show how passionate you are about the job, by explaining why you are interested in working for the company, and what you can offer them. This is yet another opportunity to impress the hiring manager, by displaying your knowledge of the organisation.

The final paragraph

When it comes to rounding up your cover letter, you should restate your interest in the role. Then, the final part of your cover letter can be saved for a polite call to action. As the idea of a cover letter is to persuade the hiring manager to take your application further, it’s wise to include some dates that you will be available for an interview. This will show your intent to the employer, and might prompt them to progress your application to the next stage.

When to write a covering letter?

Including a cover letter in your application allows you to go over details that are not mentioned on your CV. For example, you can provide explanations for gaps in your CV. Equally, if you are applying from a different location to the job, you can talk about your plan to relocate. By providing context, the hiring manager will be more understanding of your situation, meaning that you have a higher chance of being offered an interview.  

Although, the requirement for a cover letter might not be mentioned in the job description, some employers will still expect one. Therefore, taking the time to craft a well-composed cover letter will make you appear more motivated in comparison to candidates who didn’t bother.

There are some scenarios where there isn’t a need to write a covering letter. For this to occur, the employer might simply state that your application doesn’t need to be accompanied by a cover letter. Also, if you don’t have the sufficient time to write a covering letter, then it can sometimes be better to apply without one.

If you have followed all the previous steps, used a graduate cover letter template, and are still struggling to find a graduate job, then you can look to Pareto for help.    

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