Advice Centre

Cover Letters - why you won't get a job without one

Lewis Mazdon - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

For those of you who think a CV is all you need to get an apprenticeship or a job, don't be mistaken. Let us introduce you to cover letters!

Firstly, it's not just a piece of paper that wraps around your CV with "please find my CV enclosed" scribbled across it (employers hate that). In fact, it is the very thing that might actually secure you an interview and put you in the potentials list for the job on offer. Now; if you're sat there thinking why do I need one? How is it different from my CV? How does it get me a job? And how do I make it good? Then read on...

Why do I need one?

You need a cover letter because it's a tiny glimpse into who you are and what you can offer a company. It is the first thing employers will look for and read before they even look at your CV, to see why you want the job and why you want to work for them. If you don't send a cover letter and you had the option to attach one, you're making a big mistake and it is likely your CV will get filed away never to be viewed again! Think of your cover letter as a synopsis, like on the back of a DVD case or book cover, it tells you just enough to make you want to read on and it does it effectively. It is therefore your chance to make the best first impression possible and it is evident that you write one for every job you're serious about pursuing because there are no second chances at making first impressions and your cover letter gives you the only chance you've got at getting to the next stage.

How is it different from my CV?

Many people aren't sure about the difference between cover letters and CV's but it is pretty simple. Your cover letter is specific, created especially for the job you are applying to, outlining why you want it, why you're suitable and how you can prove you will succeed in the role. It's your chance to very briefly mention parts of your CV (but be careful not to repeat yourself) e.g. "I have proven ability of working in a customer service environment, making me suitable for the role on offer", and in your CV this experience you mentioned should be explained in more detail under 'Work History', stating where you worked, other tasks you undertook and what you learnt from it. Your CV therefore contains more general information (still make sure it's as relevant as possible to the job) that outlines what experience you've had, what kind of role you're looking for and your qualifications. Your cover letter on the other hand summarises you as a person into 3-4 short paragraphs and is your chance to be unique and make yourself stand out as a candidate. Most employers will usually read CV's after cover letters, so keep that in mind and what you'd like them to think about you before they read your CV. Leave a lasting impression!

How does it get me a job?

Well, for starts, it doesn't 100% guarantee you a job but it definitely increases your chances of being put through to the interview stages if you submit one. Some people have written such convincing cover letters that employers have remembered them years later. There's 3 C's that will help you make sure your cover letter gives you the best chance. The first is convincingness; make it as persuasive as possible, selling and promoting yourself to the best of your ability (but keep a good balance between confidence and modesty). The second is clarity, be as clear and concise as possible, don't write huge paragraphs, write effective paragraphs. Lastly, there's corrections! Do not forget this, always check over your cover letter for any spelling mistakes or errors and get a parent, sibling, teacher or friend to read it too.

How do I make it good?

This part is entirely up to you as it depends on the type of role you are applying for. Most employers will want you to refer to the job specification and how you match the skills they've outlined in it. The most important thing to remember is to make yourself stand out and finding a way to do this effectively.

A few things to remember are:

  • Always outline why you're interested in the job
  • How do your skills and personality suit the job?
  • What evidence do you have to prove you can do the job? (Outline previous experience)
  • How do they know you will be committed to the job?
  • What makes you different from other candidates?

The last part is always the hardest, especially if you haven't written a cover letter before, it can be hard to know where to even start. But don't panic, all you have to do is create an account today and start talking to one of our AIM Experts through the online messaging service and we can help you get started. We offer cover letter help, advice, tips and much more to make you feel confident in your apprenticeship application with AIM. Sign up today & get started. 

Back to Advice Centre

Got any questions?

Whether your question is about the application stage, CV help or Job Spec, our advice centre is here to help you. Visit our frequently asked questions section to see what applicants are asking us?

Visit our FAQ’s section

Advice Centre