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Cover letter facts

A cover letter (US), covering letter (UK), and sometimes called an application letter, is a one-page letter that accompanies your CV.

First impressions always count

You’ve heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Many people spend a lot of time on their CV and then rush through their cover letter. This is a mistake because your cover letter is often the employer’s or admissions officer’s first impression of you.

What your cover letter needs to do:

  • Introduce you
  • Demonstrate you know something about the company and the position
  • Provide two or three solid examples of how your skills and experience match the job requirements
  • Share your enthusiasm for working for this particular company or attending this particular university
  • Provide a little insight into your personality
  • And you need to do it in one page!

Likability outweighs skills

In international surveys, hiring managers repeatedly report that likability is more important in hiring decisions than skill level. Employers hire people they like – people they think will fit into their company culture and be easy to work with. Your cover letter is your first chance to show your personality and demonstrate that you are someone they would like to see at work every day.

One way to do this is to be aware of the tone of your cover letter. You want to show that you understand business letter formality and conventions but also that there is a human behind the letter. Here are some examples of wooden, old-fashioned phrasing. Instead, use natural language and speak directly to the recruiter

Impersonal More natural
Enclosed please find my resume for further reference

‘My CV is enclosed’

‘Encl.: CV’ at the bottom of the letter is also sufficient

Pursuant to our conversation of 3 March at The University Career Fair in Munich

We met last week at the University Career Fair in Munich and you mentioned that  ...


One page isn’t much space to do all of the things a cover letter needs to do. Don’t waste space with meaningless words such as herewith, therein and aforementioned.

Watch for clichés that no longer serve a real purpose. ‘Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information.’ Why would they hesitate? Isn’t it safe to assume you’ll give them more information if they request it?