How To Write A Cover Letter
Cover letters and CVs complement and often depend on each other. A well-written cover letter can catch the recruiter’s eyes, and give you a good shot at landing the job. Similarly, a poorly written one is a fast-track to a decline. Therefore, it is really important to know how to write a cover letter.
Before starting, it is important to understand what exactly is a cover letter and what does it do. While CVs provide employers with your facts and history, the cover letter should highlight you as a person and a worker. It should never be an extended repeat of your CV.
How To Write A Cover Letter: Prepare
Just like baking a cake, you’ll need certain ingredients to craft an excellent cover letter. If you leave anything out of the mix, the result is likely to be boring and floppy.
Before you even think of creating a new document on your computer, find out more about the company. You need to know what do they do, what are their work principles, what are the main benefits of working with them, etc, etc. The more you know, the more well-informed and interested you will appear. Usually the best sources for this information are the employer’s website and testimonials from current/former employees; if you can’t find something, remember: Google is your friend.
Know your audience. Different companies and industries will have different standards and expectations regarding the formality and style of the letter. Gather as much information as you can about the employers, and address them accordingly with their style and policies.
Most recruiters agree in one thing: employers will look for 3 things in your cover letter. If you’re smart, if you can get the job done and if you fit their corporate culture nicely.
Just like the requirements shown on the posting, make sure your cover letter conveys that you are what they are looking for. Be careful, however: DO NOT say that directly or repeat the same words, make your letter say that for you. Generic statements mean generic thinking; you want to stand out from the crowd.
An extra tip: in many websites, you will see guides telling you to add the recipient’s address on the top, yours at the bottom, sign it and whatnot. This works mighty fine if you’re sending it via regular mail or delivering in person, but in this day and age you’re probably stuck to e-mailing your letter or attaching a .doc or .pdf file to an online application form. Unless the application requires so, keep it simple. Add your e-mail address and telephone number after you close it. If they need your address, they can find it on your C.V. or the form you filled.
Never write the same letter twice. Copy/paste material will definitely not connect with the employer, and is likely to blow your chances of scoring an interview.
How To Write A Cover Letter: The Contents
Be direct, brief and always use the active voice. Your letter should not exceed one page, and as a rule, the shorter it is, the better. Recruiters have limited time, and cannot read extended autobiographies turned cover letters.
If possible, find out the name of the person who will be receiving your application and address them directly (Dear _________). If not, open your letter with “Dear Sir/Madam”.
Here is where you grab the recruiter’s attention and make them read on. Throw in a good mix of yourself and the position.
Example: “As an Economics professional with high-level management experience, I am hereby applying to the position of _________ advertised on _______.”
If your main qualifier is education, mention what course you have graduated from (or are studying) instead.
You told them why you are good in the first paragraph – in the second paragraph, you specify why this match was made in heaven. Here is also where you throw in information you know about the company, be it from themselves, employees or external publications. And as obvious as it may seem, avoid raising any red flags like mentioning you were fired from your last job. We’re here to give them reasons to hire you, not give them doubts.
Example: “My skills set closely matches those needed in the _________ position, and, upon researching your company/speaking to some of your employees, my personality seems to be a fit with your company culture. I have noted _______’s growing market share by reading back issues of The Newspaper. ________ was also praised last month in The Journal for its impressive potential. I want to share in _______ success and help it realize its potential.”
Don’t ask what the employer can do for you; ask what YOU can do for the employer. Here is where you add relevant career goals, job and education experience, and anything else which can add to your application.
Example: “I have the skills to make a substantial contribution. I have graduated from the University of Examples in 2002, and during my time at __________ the company saw a growth of X%. I have experience with the market your company targets, and I wrote my dissertation on the effects of _________ in the ________ industry.”
Now that you have made it this far, here is where you mention your CV and try to settle an appointment with the recruiter. Mention when are you available for interview, how (and at what times, if needed) can you be reached and if you intend to follow up with a call, notify them of when will you be doing so.
Example: I have attached my CV for your consideration. I can be reached every day from 7AM to 8PM via phone (1234-5678) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I look forward to meeting you personally to discuss this position further.
End your letter with Yours truly, and your name. Add your telephone number and e-mail under it if it is an e-mail letter.
Example: Yours truly,
Example E. Example
Before you send this letter, find someone to revise it for possible grammar and spelling mistakes. Few things make a worse impression than apparent lack of attention.
That being done, you are now ready to send a cover letter that will help you score that job you’ve been dreaming of.
So, now you know how to write a cover letter.
Still scared of writing a cover letter?
We really do recommend The CV Centre for CV writing services as well as cover letter writing services. For a small fee (and with money back guarantees) we highly recommend them to get your CV written as well as cover letters.
Whatever you do, we wish you good luck in your job search!