These days there’s more to getting a job than just submitting a CV. You will need to write a cover letter too. Cover letters are designed to accompany your CV informing prospective employers more about your skills and qualifications. But how do I write one?
Address the Right Person
In your cover letter, always address your recipient by their name. Usually, you can find out this information via the job application, but if it’s not there then don’t be afraid to call up the company and ask. This will demonstrate initiative and interest in the role.
Think how many cover letters employers go through for a role. They’re more likely to remember somebody who addressed them personally, rather than by a generic “dear sir/madam or whom it may concern.”
Quite literally introduce who you are, what job you’re applying for and where you found the job application. This will help your employer know that their recruitment strategies are working. And keep things short. A few lines will do.
And this is a good rule for cover letters in general. They should never be more than a page. In fact, 46% of employers preferred cover letters that were half a page long.
In this paragraph, you want to explain just why you’re suitable for a role, but don’t just regurgitate your CV. Pick the skills and work experience that is most relevant to the role and expand on them. But when you discuss your previous employers, definitely do not badmouth them. This will make you look petty and resentful.
Instead, discuss your key responsibilities and offer any evidence to back up your claims. Provide links to any online portfolios of work that you may have.
And don’t feel that you need to be formal and professional. Your cover letter will stand out more if it’s obvious that you had fun writing it. Don’t be afraid to write in a conversational tone or to let the real you shine through. If you’re applying for a marketing agency, then stylise your cover letter like an advert. This will help you to stand out.
Here discuss, what exactly YOU can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. Explain how a company can benefit from employing you. What can YOU bring to the table that nobody else can?
Do you have strong communication skills? Maybe you have management experience or you’re a burning creative. Explain this by using examples and relating each point back to the job criteria.
And if you’re applying for multiple similar roles, make sure that each letter is tailored to each specific job, or you run the risk of boring employers with professional, but generic letters.
When you’re speaking about your past experience, be careful not to over-exaggerate or lie. This will make you look dishonest, but this could also backfire spectacularly. Imagine you’re applying for a sales role by claiming that you could sell ice to an eskimo, yet when it comes down to it, you couldn’t sell a bottle of a water to somebody dying of thirst. You’ll look pretty silly, right?
By all means, sell your abilities, but be careful that you don’t convey yourself as arrogant. There is a fine line between sounding confident and arrogant and you always want to make sure that you are on the right side of that line.
Formatting a cover letter
You might think that formatting is too insignificant to make a difference, but you’d be wrong. If you want to be seen as professional then your cover letter needs to look professional too. This means that you should type it in Times New Roman or similar. Not Comic Sans.
And make sure you give your cover letter a thorough proof-read too. No employer will be impressed if you confuse you’re/your or where/were/we’re.
In your conclusion, you want to wrap up your cover letter by reiterating your biggest and most relevant qualities. Also emphasise how interested you are in the role and make sure you leave appropriate contact details.
Sign off by saying something to the effect of “thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you, yours faithfully (or sincerely if you don’t personally know your employer) James Linton.”
And remember to be patient when waiting for a reply. Some applications say “if you don’t hear from us in two weeks then feel free to contact us. “ When they say two weeks, they mean two weeks. Employers have countless cover letters to go through, and so don’t badger them if you haven’t heard back instantly. You’ll just end up annoying them.
And don’t be disheartened if your application is rejected. Just because you weren’t suitable for one job, doesn’t mean you won’t be suitable for another. Just keep on keeping on.