A cover letter will accompany your CV when you apply for an internship or job. Composing a letter can at first seem daunting but is easily done by following a few simple steps. It is important to get your cover letter right as this could be the difference between getting invited for an interview or having your application passed by.

Crucially, a cover letter must compliment and build on the skills you have highlighted in your CV, rather than duplicate it. Effectively, the letter gives you the opportunity to put a more personal stamp on your application and convince the employer that he or she would like to learn more about you. For this reason, it is vital that you do not send out generic cover letters as these can be spotted a mile away. Instead, take the time to specifically design a letter for that role and company. To do this successfully, ensure that the content has a clear and concise structure. To begin with, choose an appropriate greeting.

This depends on how much you know about the company and whether the job advert informs you of who will be reviewing your application. If it does, be sure to use this name as it gives the letter a personal tone and shows that you have taken the time to acknowledge the specific recruiter. If this information is not available to you, it is best to use a polite opening such as “Dear Sir/Madam” to begin the letter on a professional note. In this first paragraph, you must mention which role you are applying for as a result of seeing an advert on their website or a job board for example.

Following this, the next short paragraph should explain to the employer the qualifications, skills and experiences you have to offer and essentially why you are a good fit for the position. At this point, it is a good idea to demonstrate some research that you have carried out surrounding the role and company.

Researching the company shows the employer that you have initiative and a genuine interest in the business and its future. Using your research as a base, explain why you would like to work for the company. Make your cover letter a successful one by finishing up with a short, focussed paragraph stating that you look forward to hearing from them and that your CV is attached to this cover letter. You could also request an interview in which you look forward to discussing your suitability for the role further.

End the letter with an appropriate closing statement such as “yours faithfully” and be sure to proofread the content several times before sending it to the employer; remember that the aim of the cover letter is to make an excellent first impression.

Most importantly be confident, positive and leave yourself plenty of time to complete the letter to ensure that it is of the highest standard.