How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter
It is vital that you add a cover letter to your CV submission to a potential employer. The cover letter will help you promote your skills, experience and abilities and helps to attract the employer into wanting to meet you to find out more. The letter needs to be concise and interesting and to write in the way can be difficult.
The following guide is a step-by-step list of what to do (and not do) to ensure that you write the perfect cover letter to enhance your chances of meeting your future employer.
Research the Recipient
In order for you to write a perfect cover letter, you need to research the recipient fully. This will allow you to write a letter than targets the employer individually. Many people write a generic cover letter that they fire out to multiple employers in the hope that one will stick. Instead, be sure that you write a letter that shows the employer that you’re genuinely interested in them.
Research the company, the role that you’re applying for and the wider industrial field. Some of the considerations that you should make before you begin writing include:
- What does the employer do?
- Who is the customer base of the company?
- What responsibilities and duties will the role include?
- Who are the company’s competitors?
- What skills will you need for the job?
Once you understand the answers to the above questions, you will be able to write a cover letter that includes content relevant to your employer and the role. This will allow you to stand out from the generic submissions and will demonstrate a genuine interest in the position.
How should I format my cover letter?
It is essential that you present your cover letter in a professional and focused way. Try to keep it concise and relevant and be sure to use an easy to read font. Your employer is not likely to be impressed by embellishments and so never include pictures, word art or fancy fonts – it looks unprofessional and is almost guaranteed to get you ignored by the employer.
The next format consideration with your cover letter should be the conciseness. Keep to relevant and focused paragraphs that aren’t too long in length. Don’t ramble or bore the reader and don’t write too briefly that you appear unenthusiastic. An ideal length is around half a side of A4 paper up to an absolute maximum of one page. Never exceed this as the employer is likely to be disheartened and you may come across as self-indulgent.
How should I address a cover letter?
It is important that you address your cover letter appropriately in order to make a good first impression. You should address the letter to whoever is dealing with the job applications and you will usually find this information in the job advert. If the information isn’t there, don’t be afraid to contact the company to ask who the point of contact should be. In doing this, you will demonstrate initiative and genuine concern about your application.
If you have a name to direct the letter to, begin by writing’ Dear Mr Jones/Dear Mrs Smith’. If you are unable to find a name, address the letter ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
How should I structure my cover letter?
There is no set structure that should be followed for a cover letter, though there is a need for the letter to flow efficiently. A recruiter will want to read a letter that flows naturally and doesn’t jump from one idea to the next incoherently. In order to maintain a professional appearance, they using the following structure for the perfect cover letter:
Opening the cover letter should explain why you are contacting the recipient. Use the school rule of avoiding obvious terms such as ‘I am writing…’ and try to open the letter with a more professional ‘Further to the job advert in…’ or ‘In response to the vacancy advertised for a …’. Where possible, include information about where you saw the vacancy advertised or who referred you if they are an existing employee. Use the opening to highlight that you have enclosed your CV for consideration.
The second paragraph of your letter should contain information on why you believe that you are suitable for the job being advertised. Offer a brief summary of your professional experience and relevant qualifications. Make a point to refer to the essential skills required that are outlined in the job description to be certain that the employer recognises that you have thoroughly researched the role and that you are well matched.
Use the third paragraph of your letter to outline what you can offer the employer and why you would be a credit to the job. Again, be brief but try to offer the employer information about what you can do for the company. Do this by explaining what your professional goals are and give further detail about some of the more pertinent points in your CV. If you have any professional achievements, reiterate them here.
Use your final paragraph to reaffirm your interest in the employer and enthusiasm for the job. Also, take the opportunity to thank the recruiter for their consideration and welcome the chance to meet with them for an interview.
How do I close my cover letter?
Close the cover letter depending on how you addressed it. If you had a name for the recruiter or hiring manager, use ‘Yours sincerely’. If you weren’t able to find a name, use ‘Yours faithfully’.