How to write the perfect cover letter for a UK job application

A cover letter is a letter sent with your CV which explains details about your application to a particular company. It is usually the first thing an employer sees from you so it’s important to make a good impression. Here are some tips on how to write a cover letter in the UK.

When applying for jobs in the UK, it is important to include a cover letter when requested. Your future employer is unlikely to have met you at this point, so it is important to make a good first impression.

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Every job application will be different. Also, every industry will have its own metrics to measure your suitability. If possible speak to other people who work in your industry and discover what the key skills are that will ensure an application will lead to an interview.

The following tips will help you write the perfect cover letter for a UK application.

5 quick tips to write the perfect UK cover letter

Writing a cover letter is similar to writing any formal business letter. Make sure you are aware of the correct UK letter format before you start writing.

1. Find out who to address your cover letter to

If possible, find out the name of the person who will be reading your cover letter and address it to them. If you can’t find a name, use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.

2. Keep it brief

Your cover letter should be no more than one side of A4 paper. Employers are busy people so they won’t want to read a long letter.

3. Start with a strong opening

The first sentence of your cover letter should be a strong opener that will make the employer want to read on. For example, you could say how you heard about the job or what makes you suitable for it.

4. Highlight your skills and experience

In the main body of your cover letter, you should highlight your relevant skills and experience. For each point, explain how this will help you do the job.

5. Close with a call to action

End your cover letter by thanking the employer for their time and inviting them to contact you to discuss the role further.

How to start a cover letter

It’s important to make a good impression from the start of your cover letter. It should follow this format:

  • Dear Sir/Madam
  • State the role and company you are applying for
  • Why do you think you would be good for the role
  • Evidence to back up your statements

Simply stating that you are applying for a certain position is a good start. Managers are short on time, so the worst thing you could do is waste that time by applying for the wrong role.

The second paragraph should give statements about how you are a good fit for this role. The third should back up any statements with evidence, whether that is sales figures or performance metrics.

Every industry will have different indications of competence. If you have no trusted person in your industry to discuss what is good in your industry, look online at Quora, or Reddit. In general, people are happy to help others in their industry with a passion for the role.

How to end a cover letter

End your cover letter by thanking the employer for their time and inviting them to contact you to discuss the role further.

Do not overcomplicate the end of your cover letter. It might say more about your character to a manager if you do.

How long should a cover letter be?

Your cover letter should be no more than one side of A4 paper (about 300 words). Employers are busy people so they won’t want to read a long letter.

Example cover letter for UK applications

As previously stated, all industries have different indications of success. Here is an example of a UK cover letter in the retail industry:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to apply for the role of Sales Assistant at ABC Stores.

I am a highly motivated and experienced retail professional, with a proven track record of providing excellent customer service and achieving sales targets. I am confident that I could make a positive contribution to your team.

My track record is proven by achieving glowing reviews from customers. I rarely miss a sales target and I am the top salesperson on my team for 6 months of my time at DEC Stores.

Please find attached my CV for your consideration. I would be grateful if you could contact me to discuss my application further.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

John Doe

What is the difference between a CV and a cover letter?

Most job applications will request a CV and a cover letter. You might ask why? What is the difference between a CV and a cover letter?

A CV (curriculum vitae) is a detailed document that outlines your experience and skills. A cover letter is a brief letter sent with your CV which explains details about your application to a particular company.

When you apply for a job, companies do not expect you to fully rewrite your CV. It mostly stays the same between applications. A cover letter is intended to be more specific about the role, explaining why you are suited for this particular role.

Following these tips will help you write a strong cover letter that will improve your chances of getting the job you want in the UK. Good luck!