Each time you apply for a job, you’ll need to prepare a cover letter to send out with your CV. It’s an important part of the application process: Your cover letter will play a key role in helping ensure your CV gets noticed – essential if you are going to get an interview – so it makes good sense to invest time in making sure your cover letter is as effective as it can be.
A cover letter should complement, not duplicate your CV. Its purpose is to interpret the data-oriented, factual details of your CV, and it gives you the opportunity to add a personal touch. A cover letter will often be your first written contact with a potential employer, so it needs to create the right impression.
The following tips will help you create an affective cover letter:
Structure your letter properly
Your cover letter needs to follow the basic format of a typical business letter, and should be broken down into three discrete areas:
- Opening paragraph: Explanation of why you are writing.
- Middle Paragraphs: Details of what you have to offer.
- Concluding Paragraph: How you will follow-up this communication.
Explain why you are writing
Clearly explain the reasons for your interest in the company you’re writing to, and the position you’re applying for. Your letter needs to identify your most relevant skills and experience, and you should think about these from the perspective of the employer, expressing as much interest and knowledge about the position as you are able to.
If you have been referred to a potential employer through a friend or acquaintance, make sure you mention this early on in your cover letter as it’s likely to encourage the recipient to keep reading!
When writing in response to a job posting, remember to state where you learned of the position, and the full job title. Most importantly, express your enthusiasm, and highlight how your qualifications match the credentials required.
Explain what you have to offer
In responding to an advertisement, refer specifically to the qualifications listed, and illustrate how your particular abilities and experiences relate to the position for which you’re applying.
In a prospecting letter, express your potential to fulfil the employer's needs. You can do this by giving evidence that you have conducted thorough research, and identified a requirement in the organisation for the skills and experience you possess.
Emphasise your achievements and problem-solving skills. Show how your education and work skills are transferable, and thus relevant to the position you’re applying for.