How to Write a Great Cover Letter
Here are Our Top Tips for Writing a Great Cover Letter
When including a cover letter with your job application, the quality of your letter can be crucial. A hiring manager may only spend seconds reading a cover letter. Whether you are applying for an advertised job or just sending a speculative CV to a prospective employer, your aim should be to impress from the first point of contact. It should clearly but briefly explain why you are worth considering for the position. It allows you to personalize your application, which is not easy to do with the rather formal CV format. It may make the difference between getting an employer to read your resume or not. The same principles apply if you are emailing a CV and your “Cover Letter” is contained in the body of the email. Here are our top tips to maximize your chances of success.
Customize Every Letter
No employer wants to read a letter that has obviously been standardized for any type of job and probably sent to hundreds of employers. Take the time to do a bit of research about the position and the company and be sure to include some of this information. The more you personalize it the better.
For a printed letter, include both the employer’s and your own address and contact details at the top. If you are just sending an email, your contact details should come after your email signature at the bottom. In this case the employer’s address should be omitted.
The date should be located at the top of the letter, under your address and contact details. This is not necessary if you are just sending it as an email cover sheet since the email system will include a date..
You should start the letter “Dear Mr / Ms …” if you know the contact name. If not, you could address it to “Dear HR Manager” or “Dear Hiring Manager”.
Specify the Job and How you Found out About it
State which job you are applying for. If you saw an advert or heard about the job from a colleague or a company employee, you should mention this.
Have an Interesting Introduction
The aim of your introduction is to get the attention of the reader and entice them to read your resume. You should briefly convey:
- Interest – explain why you are interested in this particular position / company
- Competence – mention achievements, management experience, proven sales track record etc.
- Enthusiasm – talk about the passion you have for your work or field of study.
- Availability – Let the employer know when you are available to start work.
Body of the Letter
Elaborate on the points in your introduction.
Explain why you are applying for the job and how you feel you are qualified to do it. If it is similar to your past experience, mention this in your description.
Summarise your strengths and explain, giving examples from your experience, how you can benefit the company. This is your opportunity to show your unique selling points.
Use keywords and phrases that you read in the job advertisement to indicate how you match their requirements. You might not meet every requirement listed, but then again lots of applicants probably won’t. Emphasise the skills and experience you do have to offer.
Thank the employer for taking the time to read your application and tell them you hope to hear from them soon.
If you started your letter with “Dear Mr X” then you should end with “Yours Sincerely”. If you didn’t address the person by name, you should finish the letter with “Yours Faithfully”.
Don’t Just Repeat your Resume Content
A cover letter should complement your CV and should contain additional not just duplicate content.
Occasionally you may want to apply to a company before they have started actively looking for recruits. If a company has not advertised a particular position you could send a speculative application. This should detail why you are interested in the company and what you can offer them in terms of your skills and relevant experience. If you are sending this type of application, it is important to try to identify the right person to whom it should be sent.
Check and Re-check your Spelling and Grammar
Make sure your spelling and grammar are perfect. If you can’t get that right you are unlikely to get any further with your application.