A cover letter is your opportunity to make your job application stand out from the crowd to an employer. The best ones show your personality while also giving recruiters the chance to learn about your skills and your suitability for the job. That’s a lot of information to cram into a few short paragraphs, so it’s understandable if you’re unsure how to start. Sound familiar? Read our top tips for writing a cover letter…
Before you start…
Research the company
Before you even put pen to paper, make sure you research the company that you’re applying to join. Make sure you know what the company does, where they are based and who their general audience is. All of this information will help you use the correct tone when you write your cover letter.
Research the role
Another source of valuable information is the job description of the role you’re applying for. When you’re writing your cover letter, make sure you mention the skills, qualities and qualifications you possess that are also included within the job description.
Address it correctly
If possible, you should always make sure that you address your cover letter to the person advertising the job or in charge of the hiring process. If this is clear in the job advert, or on the company’s website, use the appropriate name and start your cover letter with “Dear Mr Jones”. If not, “Dear Sir/Madam” will be fine.
During the writing process…
Use proper formatting
Even though many cover letters these days are sent electronically, you should still use a traditional letter layout. This means that your contact details should be at the top and right-aligned, then the recipient’s details and the date below and left-aligned. If you’re not sure of the correct format to use, take a look at some templates online before you get started.
Keep it short
The ideal length for a cover letter is less than one page, but realistically, 2-3 paragraphs should cover everything you need to say. Anything longer will lose your reader’s attention.
The first paragraph of your cover letter should introduce yourself. Explain who you are, a little bit about your background, and why you’re interested in the role. Don’t go into too much detail, but make sure you show your personality and passion for the job.
Explain why you’re a good fit
Your next paragraph should explain why you would be a good for the role. Make sure you match your description to the requirements in the job advertisement and make sure that you mention any skills you have or relevant experience.
Your final paragraph should explain why you would be good for the company, citing examples and facts and figures. If you can, include examples of previous successes in similar roles and tangible figures that your previous work influenced, e.g. “In my current role, I have been responsible for increasing sales by 3%”.
The final lines of your cover letter should be positive and hopeful. You should thank the recipient for their time and end on a positive sign-off like “I hope to hear from you soon”.
Sign it (if you can)
If you are sending your cover letter electronically, this usually won’t be possible. But if you are sending a paper letter via post, you should always add your signature to the bottom.
Before you send it…
Proofread, proofread, proofread!
Nothing looks less professional, and is more likely to put off a recruiter, than a cover letter filled with spelling and grammar mistakes. Make sure you take the time to proofread your text carefully before sending it, paying particular attention to names.
Don’t duplicate your CV
Your cover letter should not be a replica of your CV/resume. The purpose of your cover letter is to introduce your personality and to show your engagement with, and interest for, the role. It should definitely not include things like your exam results, detailed employment history and references.
Printing out your cover letter on green paper, or using red ink, or folding it into an origami crane before sending it might seem original. However, when a recruiter has dozens of cover letters to review, these sorts of gimmicks almost always backfire. Instead of getting your cover letter noticed, they are likely to just be a distraction.
We hope that this short guide helped you write the perfect cover letter!
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