Your cover letter is an opportunity for you to expand on things you were unable to in your CV. Whether you are applying for managerial positions, part-time work or student jobs a well thought out cover letter makes a great first impression.
Here are some top tips on how to make the most of your cover letter to present yourself as a great candidate for the job.
- Be concise
Keep your cover letter short and to the point. Brevity and clarity will be appreciated by the employer and three paragraphs should be ample to get your point across. Your cover letter should not be longer than one A4 side
- Adjust your style of writing appropriately
It’s your first impression so make it count. The best covering letters are written in a formal and professional style to show you have given time and thought into what you are doing. Every job you apply for is different and may require different experience or skills, every company is different so tweak the cover letter and tailor it to the position you’re applying for. A blanket general cover letter will stick out like a sore thumb and gives the impression you couldn’t be bothered to give their organisation any special thought.
- Highlight your most relevant skills
The purpose of including a cover letter is to draw attention to the most relevant points on your CV and identifying those areas
- Start with a strong first paragraph
A strong opening paragraph is crucial. Firstly explain in brief who you are, why you are writing, the position you’re applying for and where you saw it advertised.
- Second paragraph
Here give details of why you are interested in this particular position and any supporting background knowledge. Show that you can identify with the company and its culture. Make sure you have done plenty of research into the job role itself and the company so that this can be seen in the cover letter. Employers are looking for people who not only have the right experience and skills for the job but who have certain personal characteristics and who they believe will fit in well with the organisation. Whether you’re applying for student jobs while at uni or a high-flying career position, the employer still wants to know what you can do for their company.
- Third paragraph
In this paragraph it is important to demonstrate how your skills, qualifications and experience apply specifically to this job role in their organisation. Give examples of times you have had to use these skills. If backed up with evidence of past accomplishments and the consequence of these actions this will make it more impressive. Be specific letting the employer know what you can offer them and how this can add value to the company and how your skills match the specific tasks that the post requires.
- Don’t rewrite your CV
Avoid doing this at all costs. The cover letter is meant to highlight the points from your CV which are most relevant and link them to the position for which you are applying. Don’t go listing everything you’ve done or repeating all the information from your CV as the employer will be able to read that for themselves and is a waste of their time which will not be appreciated.
- Emphasise personal characteristics
Obviously your professional accomplishments are of great significance in your job application but particularly where professional experience may be limited such as with recent graduates, recruiters may take a more holistic approach. They will want to consider your personal achievements and characteristics to see how well you could fit in to the company, so use these to demonstrate how you could be an asset to their organisation.
Your closing paragraph should be just as strong as the opening paragraph. Briefly finish your cover letter by reiterating the most valuable asset you can bring to the company, thank them for considering you for the position and mention that your CV, along with references, are attached (if applicable).
It is important to proofread and to get someone else to proofread your letter to check your grammar, spellings, punctuation and the flow of the letter. Even minor mistakes is this area will make a negative impression. It might seem trivial but it gives the employer the impression of lack of attention to detail and could make the difference between you being offered an interview or not.
Now you’ve read these tips get started on writing your cover letter, give yourself plenty of time, do your best and wait for that interview call.