How to Write a Graduate Cover Letter (With Examples)
Updated 1 March 2023
Graduate cover letter examples can help you apply for jobs after graduating from university. Your cover letter helps create an employer's first impression of you, so it should sound professional. It should also help you stand out as a worthy applicant. In this article, we will explain how to write a graduate cover letter and provide examples for you to base your own graduate cover letters on.
Why is a graduate cover letter important?
A graduate cover letter introduces you to a potential employer or hiring manager. It explains who you are, why you want the position and why you are the best candidate for the role. A graduate cover letter is important for the following reasons:
It emphasises your strengths.
It differentiates you from the other applicants.
It demonstrates how the skills and experience outlined on your CV makes you well-suited for the position.
It hopefully convinces an employer to read your CV.
How to write a graduate cover letter
You'll likely find writing a graduate cover letter easier if you break it down into small steps. Follow the steps below to write your graduate cover letter:
1. Address and date your cover letter
Addressing your cover letter makes your identity and personal details clear. Always include your address details when submitting a hard copy or electronic cover letter. Include your recipient's address details in a hard copy cover letter. Electronic cover letters almost always reach their intended recipients, so recipient addresses are not required for cover letters submitted via email or online form. Include the date to show you have submitted your cover letter in a timely fashion, before application deadlines. Take the following steps to address and date your cover letter:
Right-align your recipient's address for hard copy graduate cover letters. Write the street number and name, city and postcode on separate lines.
Leave a single line, then right-align the date in the format day, month and year.
Left-align your name and address. Write your name, street number and name, name of area, city and postal code on separate lines.
You may also add your phone number or email address on separate lines, but these are optional. Only include the email address on a hard-copy graduate cover letter, as it will be obvious on an electronic cover letter.
2. Add a personal greeting
Open your cover letter with a personal greeting. Most graduate cover letter greetings use the format 'Dear Mr Smith', using the appropriate title and surname. Using the recipient's name, rather than a generic title such as Hiring Manager or Sir, makes your cover letter feel more personal. Add a comma after the recipient's surname.
Job postings usually note who receives applications. Contact the hiring company to find out the right recipient if it is not listed. Double-check the spelling of the recipient's surname and title if it is not clear. If you are not able to find the recipient's name, more generic formal greetings such as 'Dear Hiring Manager' or 'To whom it may concern' are appropriate.
3. Introduce yourself
The first paragraph of your graduate cover letter should introduce yourself and your interest in the job. You can leave out your name, as you have already included this near your address and will note it again in your closing. Mention your degree and how it prepared you for the vacant position. Your introductory paragraph should be concise and customised to the specific position you're applying for.
4. Explain why you believe you're a good job candidate
The second paragraph of your graduate cover letter should expand on why you feel you're a good candidate for the specific job. Mention any experience from volunteer work or part-time jobs that gave you transferrable skills and what these skills are. Try to include essential and desirable skills mentioned in the job advertisement. Also, explain why you want that particular role with the specific company.
5. Close your cover letter
Close your cover letter by thanking your recipient for their time. Then encourage them to contact you with any questions about your application. Include a warm but professional closing statement followed by a comma and then your name on a separate line. 'Yours sincerely' is the customary closing statement for letters with named recipients. If you are using a generic recipient name, use 'Yours faithfully.' Leave space for your signature between your closing statement and name on hard copy cover letters.
6. Enclose your CV and other supporting documents
Add your CV and other supporting documents, such as a portfolio. If you are submitting a hard copy application all these documents should go in one envelope. Organise them neatly in a logical order. If your application is electronic, make sure you attach and completely upload all the correct documents.
It is a professional courtesy to note when you are including enclosures, such as your CV and portfolio, at the bottom of your cover letter. You can simply leave a line under your name, then state 'Enclosure' or 'Enclosures.' Alternatively, write 'Enclosure' or 'Enclosures,' then a colon and a list of all your enclosed documents. Write each enclosed document on a separate line.
7. Proofread your graduate cover letter
Proofread your graduate cover letter to make sure it is well-written and free from errors. Revise any awkward phrasing and spelling, grammar or formatting errors. Edit out the information you have discussed in your CV or other parts of your application to keep your cover letter brief. Then proofread your cover letter again to make sure it reads as you intend.
It's a good idea to complete this step a few days after writing your graduate cover letter if time allows. This lets you proofread your work with fresh eyes and detect more areas with revision. If you are not a confident writer, you may also like to get a trusted friend or family member to proofread your graduate cover letter as well.
Tips for writing your graduate cover letter
Since you likely don't have an extensive work history, your graduate cover letter should highlight your education and relevant experience. Keep the following general tips in mind when writing your graduate cover letter.
Use a polite, professional and enthusiastic tone.
Be concise. A cover letter that is brief and focused will be more likely to hold the hiring manager's attention.
Use black ink and a professional typeface, such as Times New Roman or Century Gothic, in an 11- or 12-point size.
Use block paragraphs and leave a space between each one for readability.
Graduate cover letter examples
Use these graduate cover letters as examples when writing your own:
Example cover letter with a known recipient and unspecified enclosure
63 Castle Road
9th October 2020
Ms Christine Parker
34 Forest Lane
Phone: +44 122 355 3333
Dear Mr McClelland,
As someone fascinated by Bioterra's biomedical research, I am interested in your recent job posting for an entry-level mechanical project engineer. I recently earned first-class honours Engineering (Biomedical) BEng from the University of Cambridge. This degree has given me the knowledge and skills to aid Bioterra's ongoing innovations in the biomedical engineering field.
I have watched recent press conferences detailing your cutting-edge implants and bionics developments. I am also passionate about this area. I recently completed a summer internship with Biobones. During this time, I actively contributed to the development of a new artificial knee joint which will soon enter the UK market and reduce patient recovery time by 35%.
I believe in Bioterra's cutting-edge work and appreciate its reputation for excellence. I would love working with an organisation like yours committed to using science to improve health outcomes. Thank you for taking the time to consider my application. Please contact me on the telephone number above if you have any questions or want to discuss my application further.
Example cover letter with an unknown recipient and specified enclosures
348 School Street
11th June 2020
Mr. Patrick Doherty
76 Angel Court
Phone: +44 117 922 2020
Dear Hiring Manager,
After recently completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Bristol School of Art, I am applying for your vacant entry-level graphic designer role. I feel my creativity and technical skills would make me an asset to the Kapow Design team.
I love the way your design company creates subversive and effective print advertising campaigns. I would love to be a part of the team that creates such thought-provoking yet visually stunning advertisements. I recently interned at Bold Media, which taught me a lot about applying my fine arts training to a more commercial role. The mentorship of senior designers has prepared me for a role with your company.
Through my internship and studies, I have learned how much I enjoy working as part of a creative team. I thrive in high-pressure environments and feel deadlines help me produce my best work. I am fascinated by the way that visual images and colours influence moods and actions and hope I can explore their impact more with you.
Thank you for taking the time to review my application. Please contact me on the telephone number above if you have any further questions for me.
Samples of work submitted for university assignments
Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.
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