How to write a cover letter

You may have a brilliant CV, but submitting a poor cover letter with your application can pretty much ruin your chances of getting a great job.

Your cover letter can sometimes be the only opportunity you get to tell the employer exactly why your CV is worth a read and why YOU are the perfect person for that job.

Here are a few handy hints to ensure your cover letter stands out from the rest:

Research the company industry:

By doing your research you are actively demonstrating to the employer that you are serious about this and a career in the scientific field of your choice. During your research, it is a good idea to focus on the following:

  • What is the organisation’s mission and values? Do you believe in it?
  • What are the organisation’s target market?
  • What is the history of the employer?
  • What has been happening with them recently? Read their news pages to find out.

Analyse the job description:

Keep an eye out for the key competencies and experience necessary for the role – do you fit the criteria?

Personalise your cover letter:

It is vital that throughout the letter you align your accomplishments and achievements with the criteria of the job. You need to assure the reader that you are a great match!

Keep it brief and to the point:

Make sure your letter is no more than one A4 page long and use bullet points to make important points stand out.

Check, check and check again:

Your CV won’t even get a glance if you send over a cover letter that is littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Make sure use spell check AND get a trusted friend, or a CK consultant to check it over for you. 

Not sure how to structure your cover letter? Here’s how…

  • Include your address in the top right-hand corner.
  • Address the reader: ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss…’ Always address the letter to the decision maker in charge of the scientific role.  If you are unsure who it is, the HR department will always help you.
  • Paragraph 1: Clearly state your intention to apply for the job, including any references numbers you have been given. If you are not applying for any specific job, and simply inquiring, ask if the company has any openings and present and then state why you would like to work for that company.
  • Paragraph 2: Outline your qualifications and experience and then match them to the requirements of the job you are applying for (these will be found in the job description). Go on to demonstrate your motivation and enthusiasm to help the company achieve their goals within the industry. (This is where the research you conducted about the company will come in handy.)
  • Paragraph 3: It is a good idea to end with a positive statement. Then direct the reader to your enclosed CV and inform them of your availability for interview. Finally, thank the reader for their time and consideration and welcome them to get in touch to discuss the job in more detail.
  • Conclude with:
    • ‘Yours sincerely’ – if you have addressed the letter to the named contact
    • ‘Yours faithfully’ – if you have used ‘Dear Sir/Madam’

Then sign your name.

Once your cover letter is complete, its time to apply for your dream scientific job – visit our job hunting advice page for more tips