How To Write a Student Cover Letter (With Examples)
Updated 18 April 2023
If you're a student who's applying for a job, a cover letter can be the most important part of your application. With often little work experience to fill up your CV, your cover letter's role as a persuading document becomes even more important. It's usually a good idea to familiarise yourself with how to write a cover letter and the best practices for your particular situation. In this article, we detail the important aspects of a student cover letter, along with the steps to write one and a couple of examples.
Related: Writing a CV with No Experience
Why is a student cover letter important?
Your student cover letter is a document that accompanies your CV when you apply for a job. It's the first impression the company or recruiter will have of you and describes your skills, academic performance and any work experience you may have. As a student, you may have relatively less of the latter than others. This is why your cover letter is important. As a persuasive document, it conveys your suitability for the role by detailing your desirable personal attributes, skills and personality.
This is where a student cover letter differs most from one written by a professional with some experience. Whereas the latter would focus on their most relevant work-related experiences and achievements, as a student your cover letter focuses on different things. Your academic performance, participation in university activities or academic achievements can all present a favourable picture of you, which increases your chances of getting an interview.
How to write a student cover letter
Your cover letter's primary purpose is to persuade the recipient, usually a recruiter, that you're the best candidate for the position in question. It's also a written example of your communication skills, which might be important for the job. Knowing what to include and what to omit in a cover letter can be a challenge because you want to keep it succinct. The best way to address this is to refer to the requirements in the job advertisement. These are the most important things to focus on in your cover letter.
This is important because a cover letter almost always needs to be tailored to the job and company in question. To write an effective student cover letter, follow the steps below:
1. Do your research
Before you start writing the cover letter, do some research into the company that posted the job advertisement. Sometimes a recruiting company posts these job listings, so make sure you're aware of the company that you're actually applying to work at. Get an idea of their values and priorities, whether there are any notable changes ongoing and the name of the person who is going to receive your cover letter.
2. Address the recipient by name
If you succeed in finding the name of the person who's receiving your cover letter, you can address them directly. This shows that you took the time to find this information, which indicates that you are serious about the job and a diligent person. It also helps your cover letter stand out from those of other candidates that begin with a more generic 'Dear Sir/Madam'.
3. Talk about the job you're applying for
Recruiters receive many applications for different jobs on a daily basis. Informing the recipient which job you're applying for saves them from having to guess, which is usually appreciated. Do this in the first line or two of your student cover letter, and you can then mention why you're interested in the job and where you found the vacancy. You can also express your interest in working for the company itself.
4. Talk about why you're the best candidate
This is the most directly persuasive part of your cover letter. Start by mentioning any relevant work experience you might have, including internships. You can then talk about your personal skills and attributes, as long as they're relevant to the role. Remember to match this information to the requirements for the job. Once you've detailed how you match their requirements, you can talk about any other skills you have that might be useful. It is usually best to provide context to your skills, such as explaining them with examples or stories.
For example, instead of saying 'I have good communication skills', you could say something like 'My summer job in customer service helped me develop excellent communication skills'. If you don't meet certain requirements, try to find transferrable skills or experiences that could be relevant.
5. Thank the recipient for their time
When you've finished conveying your suitability for the job, thank the recipient for taking the time to read your cover letter. You can mention your enthusiasm for the role a final time and that you look forward to discussing your candidacy further. Close the letter politely and give your full name. If your contact details haven't been requested at a separate stage of the application process, then provide those below your full name.
Related: How to End a Cover Letter
6. Re-read and assess your cover letter
Before you send your student cover letter with your job application, take the time to re-read it. If possible, do this some time after you've finished writing. When you re-read your cover letter, look for spelling or grammatical mistakes and correct them. You can also check to make sure it is well-formatted and clearly written. Try to assess how persuasively you've written and whether there is anything that you forgot to include.
You can also ask a friend or relative who has relevant experience to read your cover letter and give you their feedback. Additionally, there's a three-part checklist below. This checklist outlines the most important features of an effective student cover letter, which are as follows:
You might be using a template or master copy for writing several cover letters. This can be a good time-saving measure, as long as you make sure that the final copy of each cover letter is unique and tailored to the job and company in question. Make sure your cover letter addresses the recipient directly, states the job you're applying for and matches your skills and experiences with those required for the position.
Related: What Is a Bachelor's Degree?
This is arguably the most important feature of a well-written cover letter. When you re-read yours, try to do so from the perspective of a recruiter. Ask yourself if you would hire this person, or whether you'd be interested in interviewing them. If not, then try to specify why. This can help you improve the persuasiveness of your cover letter. Feedback from a friend or relative can be useful here too.
A good cover letter only needs to be one page long at most, even with extra spacing. When you re-read your cover letter, make sure that the paragraphs are four or five lines long at most. Ensure that your sentences are clear and unambiguous. Remove any informal language or unnecessarily personal information, and make sure your cover letter is free of repetition and rambling. It needs to be clear, professional and easy to read.
Examples of student cover letters
To help you write your own student cover letter, there are two examples below that are based on the steps and guidelines in this article. You can use these as inspiration or templates for when you write your own. Just make sure that your final copy is unique and meets the requirements of the three-part checklist above:
Dear Ms Jones,
My name is Michael Barker, and I am writing to submit my application for the position of junior accountant at Fernsby Accountants. I am a student at the University of Manchester, and due to graduate in two months.
I have managed to get consistently high grades in all of my university courses, which included financial reporting, financial statement analysis, management accounting and financial engineering. I have also worked in my university's accounting department over the summer. This granted me hands-on experience with the day-to-day work of accounting, and helped me to develop good teamwork and communication skills.
Together with my keen eye for detail and organisational and time management skills, I believe I would be a valuable addition to Fernsby Accountants.
Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my application, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
0111 2222 333
Dear Mr Jones,
My name is Sarah Davies, and I wish to submit my application for the position of junior graphic designer at Twelvetrees Design Studio. I came across the vacancy on your website, and I am very excited about the prospect of working at your company.
After completing a summer internship at your company last year, I always thought I'd like to work at Twelvetrees, which is why I kept an eye on your website. I am due to graduate in a few weeks, and have developed my skills considerably since my internship. Specifically, I am a very capable user of 3D design software and its uses. I understand that Twelvetrees is starting to work more in this area, and I hope to contribute in any way I can.
I would like to thank you for considering my candidacy, and I look forward to discussing it with you further.
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