How to Write a Cover Letter
31st May, 2018
With the vast majority of job applications, you’re almost guaranteed to be asked to provide two things: a CV and a cover letter. Neither one is particularly enjoyable to put together, and often lead to people feeling anxious or confused about how to write them. However, given the right guidelines, these are simple enough tasks to complete.
We’ve previously looked into how to write the perfect CV and this guide completes the duo, delving into how to make your cover letter catch the eye of your potential employer, so they can’t help but invite you to that all-important interview.
So, let’s jump right in, starting with structure…
When writing a cover letter, you ideally want to begin by addressing the employer’s name, so ‘Dear Mr/Ms…’. Alternatively, if you’re not sure of their name, start with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.
You then want to state why you are writing, for example: ‘I am writing with regards to the position you are advertising for…’
Next, it’s time to entice the employer and begin explaining why you are right for the job. Detail what skills and experience you have that are relevant to the position; it may also be worth establishing the personality traits you possess that you think will go hand-in-hand with the role.
Remember to link your points to those in the job description, even if it’s only a tenuous link.
It’s always a good idea to research the company before writing your cover letter, as it shows how serious you are about the role and gives you more chances to connect your skills and experience. You can then use these details as talking points during your interview.
This information can be found by looking at the company’s website, social media, articles related to them and who their competitors are.
So, the employer has now got to know you a little bit, but what makes you stand out from the other people applying for the job?
This next section is where you’re going to write the things that only you can bring to the company. You want to tell them precisely what puts you above the rest (without literally saying ‘I’m better than everyone because…’).
Perhaps it’s your unique combination of past skills and experience or a personal link/interest that you have to the company.
This can be seen as one of the most challenging sections as people like to be modest; however, if you put your head to it, you are bound to find something – even if it seems small.
Your final paragraph summarises why you are interested in the job and what makes you the perfect candidate for the role, rounding up the previous points you have made. You want to leave the employer without a second thought on whether they’re going to ask you to an interview or not.
Finish your letter by thanking the employer for their time and saying that you look forward to seeing them in an interview and speaking in person.
If you began your letter by addressing the employer by name, you should sign-off as 'Yours sincerely', otherwise you should write ‘Yours faithfully’, followed by your name.
YW Pro’s Extra Pearls of Wisdom
To make your cover letter further stand out, try to include these following points:
- Make each cover letter you write unique – yes it takes longer, but it’s worth it as an employer can see the difference.
- This is a highlight of your CV – don’t just re-write the information you wrote there, only what’s relevant to this particular job.
- Keep it between ½ and ¾ of a page so that the person reading it doesn’t lose any interest.
- Make sure the contact details you provide are up to date and will be responded to.
- Check, check and triple check your spelling and grammar so you can demonstrate your attention to detail. Why not get someone else to read over it for you?
- Don’t jeopardise your chances because the employer can’t open your document in the format you’ve sent. The safest options are a Microsoft Word document or PDF file.
- Don’t get fancy with your font; make sure it’s simple and easy to read. Calibri and Arial are safe choices, and you should select either size 11 or 12.
Send your CV straight to the right person