Writing a good cover letter is essential if you want prospective employers to consider your application and invite you to interview. It provides an opportunity for you to sell yourself and stand out amongst other applicants.
In the frantic midst of sending out job applications it might seem like an easy option to start sending out the same cover letter to multiple employers. Trust us - this is never a good idea! Cover letters must be tailored to the position you are applying for. It's very easy to tell if you haven't put enough effort in. Ultimately, the aim of a cover letter is to convince the employer that they want to meet you in person for an interview. So, it really is worth putting in the effort to write a good one. In this post, we'll take you through our step by step guide of how to construct a winning cover letter.
What is a cover letter?
First things first, what actually is a cover letter? A cover letter is the document you send alongside your CV as part of your job application. It gives you the chance to sell yourself, explain in a few sentences why you are the best person for the job and why you are excited to work for their company. It should not just repeat your CV, but rather expand on points mentioned in your CV, and it must include details such as why you want to work for that company, how you will fit in well in their company and why that role.
Presentation is important. Use an easy to read fonts such as Arial in size 11 or 12 and use paragraphs to structure your cover letter. Also, like any professional piece of work,any spelling or grammatical mistakes will hugely undermine the quality of it. Proofread it over and over again and give it to someone else to check over. Ensure that you use professional language, and use the keywords mentioned in the job description as it will help to keep your cover letter focused on the job. Do not make the letter too long - it should never be longer than A4 page (aim for 350 words).
What you should include
Your cover letter needs to be addressed to the right person. Make sure that you research exactly which individual needs to receive it, and check their role and spelling of their name to avoid any awkward mistakes. If you really can't find who you should be addressing your cover letter to, start the letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
The introduction does not need to be long as it should just highlight why you are writing the cover letter. It should include some basic information about yourself (e.g. what are you studying, have you already graduated) and where you heard about the job.
Why the company?
You need to specify why you have applied for this company over any other companies. Make it clear that you have researched the company in great detail and know its values, key members and recent news. Show enthusiasm for any recent developments such as their ‘industry changing techniques’ and mention how you think you will fit in to their company culture. Employers want to hire someone who wants to be a part of their company, not just have a job!
Why the role?
After explaining why this company, the letter should emphasise why you chose this role. You must explain what about the job attracts you and why.Make sure your enthusiasm gets across and always back up any claims you make with evidence.
The cover letter presents the opportunity for you to convey why you should get the job over any other applicants. You should expand on the skills you mention in your CV in greater detail, and explain why this makes you the best person for the job. Pick out three or four of the most relevant skills to focus on and offer brief examples of where you have used these skills in the past to support your claims, putting your best and most relevant evidence first. It is best to concentrate on your unique selling points and what differentiates you from others. Remember you are trying to sell yourself and show your potential!
The conclusion should round off the letter. You must summarise your main points and end with enthusiasm for the job. Explain that you look forward to hearing from them soon and give any available interview dates or ways of contacting you.
Cover letters can seem like an effort to write, but follow the format and structure provided and you can't go far wrong. Remember to research the company, keep it short and enticing, and think carefully about what will make you stand out from the crowd. We've even created some templates for you to use to help you get started (you can thank us later!).