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The basics of a cover letter

Written by Andrew Arkley

Adding a cover letter with your CV is essential if you want to ensure you are seriously considered for a job opening. A cover letter will allow you the chance to expand on your CV and to sell yourself more so to a prospective employer. Furthermore a cover letter is optional, thus giving you a clear advantage over any applicants who have failed to attach one.

Playing a part in a considerable number of recruitment campaigns over the years I have been surprised to see a number of candidates failing to add this essential item to their application. There are no rules as to when a cover letter should be attached and it is for this reason you should always seize this as an opportunity to stand out.

What should be included in a cover letter?

Any cover letter should encompass the following elements (from top to bottom):

Contact Details:

  1. Your full name
  2. Your full address
  3. Your phone number
  4. Your mobile number
  5. Your email address

Formal salutation:

Is it 'Dear...' or 'To...'? As short as the salutation is, it screams to the recruiter your level of English Language skills. It is important to understand that using correct salutation is a must in your cover letter. So what is the correct salutation to use?

  1. Always use 'Dear...' - followed by title and surname or full name
  2. In the absence of a contact name, 'To Whom It May Concern'


Simply put, there are 3 parts to the body; reason, offer and conclusion.

  1. Reason - Why you are writing the cover letter. The obvious insertion here is to explain you are applying for the role in question and to thank for the opportunity.
  2. Offer - What you have to offer. It is important at this point of the letter to outline not only what you did, but more so, what you achieved. With employers increasingly moving towards competency based language it is important you expand your achievements in a quantitative manner.
  3. Conclusion - You ARE the best person for the role! Be bold and direct in your concluding paragraph. Link your previous paragraph for justifying why it is a no brainer to continue your application.  


Follow the body with;


(Your full name)

Enclosed: CV'


  1. Proof read and spell check. If you have the opportunity to do so, get someone else to also read it.
  2. If sending by email, be sure to name your cover letter as 'Cover Letter (Full name)'. 
  3. Keep your cover letter industry specific. If applying for a role in Customer Services then do not focus on achievements un-related to Customer Services.
  4. Save your humour for the interview. Remain professional throughout.

By factoring in the above into your cover letter you can be certain to increase your chance of catching the recruiters attention.

At PurpleCV we will not only factor in all of the above, we will be sure to resonate your Cover Letter with your CV in addition to highlighting in the best possible way your achievements. You can add a Speculative Cover Letter for just £15.00 when using our CV Writing Service

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