When you apply for a job, your CV shouldn’t be the only aspect you pay careful attention to. A well-written cover letter allows you to better showcase your suitability for the job, and has the potential to be your saving grace when your CV isn’t as strong as it could be.
A cover letter gives you an opportunity to:
- Introduce yourself to the employer
- Outline why you are the best possible fit for the job
- Provide information that your CV can’t provide
- Elaborate on important areas of your CV
Remember that your cover letter shouldn’t mirror what you have written on your CV: it should complement, expand on, and add a personal touch to it.
FOLLOW THESE 6 STEPS TO CREATE A COVER LETTER THAT SHINES BRIGHTER THAN THE REST!
1. Start with your name and contact information.
Give a heading to your cover letter with your name in large lettering, and your contact details underneath. Include your physical address, cellphone number and email address. Keep this aligned to the centre of your page. Below this and aligned to the left of the page, you can add the date and the hiring manager’s full name. You can check who the hiring manager is by looking carefully at the job listing, the company’s website, or LinkedIn. If you can’t find the information here, then give the company a call to find out the name of the person who will most likely be viewing your CV. Doing this shows that you’ve put real effort into applying for the job. Follow this up with the hiring company’s address and phone number.
See below for an example:
2. Address the hiring manager directly
Instead of using a vague term such as “To Whom It May Concern”, make your opening salutation a little more personalised (but professional), by using the manager’s last name, preceded by “Mr” for a male, or “Ms” for a female. For example, “Dear Mr Smith” or “Dear Ms Smith”.
3. Write a clear introduction
As with any piece of writing, a clear and concise introduction is important to set the tone for the rest of your letter. Start by stating which position you are applying for, and how you came across the opportunity. You can follow this with a brief description of yourself, including your qualifications, area of expertise and career goals.
4. Turn to the job at hand
You can now move on to describing the skills, abilities and experience that will make you a perfect candidate for the job. Make sure that you constantly refer to the company and job position: you don’t want the cover letter to sound generic. Also explain why you want to work for that specific company, by referring to the company’s mission and goals (this again shows that you’ve done your research).
You should look carefully at the job description and the required skills listed in it, and match these skills to your own. Support your case by referring to examples of where you have used these skills in your current job position or other areas of life. For example, you may have learnt organisational skills by being part of a student representative committee or community organisation.
5. Finish with a strong conclusion, and a signature
Conclude your letter by saying that you would love the opportunity to be interviewed for the position, and thank the hiring manager for taking the time to read your letter. End off with a professional greeting – “Kind regards” always works! Type your full name, but leave a space before this where you can add your signature once your letter is printed. Signing the cover letter adds a professional, eye-catching touch! If you need to email your application, then simply scan the cover letter back into your computer.
6. Double check everything!
Before sending in your letter, it’s absolutely crucial to ensure that there are no spelling or grammar errors – these make a terrible impression. Read through your letter again (at least once) to make sure that you are happy with the way your sentences are structured and that you’ve included everything relevant.
It’s also a good idea to have a friend or family member look over the letter to get their impressions.
Do you need some help with setting up the perfect CV?