Writing a cover letter is quite important when it comes to applying for a job. It is your chance to say who you are, what you do and what you are about. By following a few tips, adopting a new technique, and emphasising certain points, you can write a dazzler of a cover letter that makes you very difficult to ignore.
Select a Type
There are different types of cover letter depending on the vacancy. These may vary in formality, tone, and depth. Find out more about the job to enable you to select the type of cover letter required.
Format it Correctly
Formatting your cover letter correctly is vital for striking a formal professional tone. Your address should be in the top right corner with a right alignment; the recipient’s address should be on the left hand side but below your address, with a left alignment; your paragraphs should be separated by new lines and should be clear and easy to read in a sensible, plain font. Make sure you sign (or e-sign) your letter too, giving it a more personal touch.
Have a Look at Examples
It isn’t cheating to have a peek at some examples! Browse the net for some examples and make notes about what you could use from them to come up with your own hybrid version. Use the examples to work your skills into the piece, but don’t forget to link them back to the job description and criteria.
Find a Template to Get you Started
A decent template can give you a strong base to work from. Modify the template to make your own template which can then be personalised for each job you apply for. Keep the template simple so that it doesn’t need to be fully rewritten each time you use it.
Customise it to Death
For every job, read the job description and criteria twice, and make notes on how your skills fit the requirements. Then, add the relevant items to your cover letter. The more personal and less impersonal your cover letter sounds, the more likely an employer is to take notice of it. If your potential job will require you holding meetings and presentations, and you have had to do presentations in the past at university or have prepared someone else’s presentation for work in the past, get it all in there.
Use their Keywords
Has the employer used some keywords and buzz words in their hiring criteria? Use them back to show you have researched the role to some extent and that you understand the words. Warning: do not use a keyword you do not fully understand, as they may ask you about your cover letter at interview!
Take the time to find out about the company, the team and the hiring manager, addressing your letter directly to them if possible so that it lands straight on their desk and isn’t banded around the office. If you don’t have this information to hand, obtain it via a phone call to the company or check out their website for more information.
Email it Where Possible
Paper letters can easily get mislaid, but an emailed CV will go straight to the hiring manager or HR department’s email inbox. Keep the email brief and attach your cover letter and CV to the email in a user-friendly format, such as a PDF file or as a Word Document (.doc). If the employer can’t open your documents, it is unlikely they will contact you to tell you.
Address the Manager Correctly
If you have a named person to address it to, use their name. If you know their title (Mr., Mrs., Miss, etc.) you should say “Dear Mrs xxx”. Otherwise, it is acceptable to say “Dear John Smith” or whatever their name is. Without a name, you should use either their title, eg. Dear Hiring Manager, or address it “To whom it may concern”. You can also say “Dear Sir/Madam” if you wish. Keep it formal and don’t shorten their name or use their first name only unless you have actually met them before and been given permission to address them this way.
Don’t Slaver On
Keep your cover letter at around 250-500 words, or one sheet of A4 and no more. If you write a ten page proposal, they’ll probably skim the first page and bin the middle nine, and read the last. Short, sweet, concise, professional and clear are the norm for a cover letter. Don’t go into detail about your time on the high school cheerleading team if it is not important to your new role.
By following this advice when compiling your cover letter you may find that you have a document that not only lures an employer in, but a document that genuinely aids you in gaining employment.