Address the letter to a particular person by name. Phone to find this out if necessary.
Communicate something personal that will grab their attention, e.g. "My project work put me in contact with X division in your company".
Answer the question 'Why should I interview you?' and address it through your letter.
Example of what a cover letter should include at Destinations®.
Research the company, their culture, values, interests and recent achievements. Demonstrate knowledge of the company in a complimentary way in the letter. "Having done extensive research on X I was very impressed by your company's ..."
Include the key phrases or language of the employer as indicated in the job description or company literature and website. In that way you will show that you speak the same language and that you will fit into their culture.
For information on targeting your cover letter at Destinations®.
Look for feedback on what you have written. Show draft forms, letters or CVs to your careers adviser and seek their opinion. Remember it is quality applications that count.
If you have an issue surrounding health you could mention it briefly in the letter accompanying your CV. It should be done positively, highlighting gains made. Think about the transferable skills required - living with a health problem may have helped you offer these (eg problem-solving approach, overcoming difficulties, and perseverance). So say so!
Hear a UK employer give tips for disclosing health and disability information at Destinations®.
Mature applicants may need to challenge overt prejudice eg. stated age limit in an advertisement. If you see a job of interest to you, consider applying and countering the ageism in the opening sentence "I have experience, skills, abilities which make me ideal despite being a mature applicant". Emphasise your ability to work in a mixed-age environment eg. other students/academics younger than yourself. Highlight the multi-skilled approach an adult with family responsibilities brings to degree studies and sell your recent and relevant experience above all.
If there is anything that you think the employer may be concerned about in your application address this in your cover letter directly. Perhaps, if your experience lies in another area you could say "While I have experience in A area I did gain expertise in X, Y, Z and I am flexible and willing to learn". If you had a period of unemployment refer to the creative way that you spent your time and the skills you acquired during that time.
You may also send out a speculative letter with your CV expressing an interest in the company should a position arise in the future. In this way the employer can keep you in mind should an opportunity arise to hire.
More information on targeting your cover letter at Destinations®.