How To Write a Cover Letter For a Job

By: Joe McDermott | Updated: 6 December, 2018 | Category: Job Search

Cover letterA good cover letter is vital to getting a job. It is your introduction to a potential employer – the written equivalent, if you like, of a confident handshake and a friendly smile. An impressive CV is of course a help, but a good covering letter can create an immediate favourable impression with an enthusiastic tone. It points out how the information on your CV is relevant to the job and it can highlight the essential skills, experience and personal qualities that you bring.

Tips For a Successful Cover Letter

In order to create a successful and persuasive covering letter you should make note of the following key points:

  • Your cover letter should be neatly set out and written on plain paper, preferably of a light colour so that the text stands out well. Expensive, flashy coloured paper is to be avoided as it only distracts from the content.
  • Make it easy to read, with short sentences, and factual content that is to the point. Try to avoid vagueness or waffle, and use everyday language without clichés and without sounding too pompous or formal.
  • Keep it to a single page – an overly long cover letter simply loses impact. and could suggest woolly thinking and discourage a potential employer from wanting to know more about you. One side of an A4 sheet is about right.
  • Your writing should be fluent and positive, with answers to some of the questions an employer might pose, such as “What makes you think you would be good at this job?” Show understanding of what the job entails, be convincing that you are really interested in the work, whether it might be sales, finance, insurance, or whatever, and not just looking for any job that you can get. Competition is fierce for employment, and qualifications alone are not enough. An employer wants to see drive, ability, and a desire to succeed.
  • Show how your skills are relevant to the job and demonstrate that you have a range of experience. Show that you are able to work within a team where necessary, or think for yourself and that you are flexible and creative.
  • You should try to find the name of the right person to write to rather than send an impersonal letter to “The Manager” or “The Director”. Independent research has demonstrated the value of an approach to a correctly named person within an organisation, in getting attention and being able to go to the next step of being offered an interview.
  • State when you would be able to start work, whilst being as flexible as possible.
  • If your letter is sent by email as an attachment, you need to make this clear in the body of the message so that your email doesn’t get overlooked or just goes into a spam folder. Although emails are quick to deliver, and part of modern life, they can get lost in the system more easily perhaps than a written letter on paper, sitting on the desk.
  • It is imperative that you check and check again your grammar and spelling, before sending off your letter. Spelling checks need to be contextual, as spellcheckers cannot necessarily pick up a word that is inappropriate in its context, such as “form” instead of “from”, for example.

A cover letter is arguably even more important than your CV, since it is likely to be read first. It can be the deciding factor as to whether a prospective employer moves on to look at the rest of your application and consider you for interview.

Another key point is to keep in mind is that although you may be sending out several job applications, you need to make each one sound individual and personal, rather than sticking to a standard template.

Writing Your Cover Letter

Layout

  • Lay out your letter with your address and contact details in the top right corner of the page.
  • Address to the individual recruiting for the job along with his or her title for example “Dear Mr Smith” or  “Dear Ms Jones”. It is definitely worth finding out who would be dealing with your application, either by checking online or by telephoning to ask. If you have not succeeded in discovering the name of the recruiting manager then opt for “Dear Sir/Madam”.
  • Draft your letter so that it reads in a logical manner, is intelligent and concise, consisting of an introductory paragraph and then 2 or 3 subsequent paragraphs detailing your experience and skills, what you will bring to this employer and finally the objective of your application.

Introduction

  • The opening sentence can be the most difficult, but it best to come straight to the point, for example, “I am writing to you regarding the (job title) position as advertised on your website (ref 45433667) and attach my CV for your attention.”

About You

  • Outline your experience and academic qualifications highlighting only those regarded as essential to the role.  Mention recent employments and key achievements especially those which show that you are capable and committed to a role such as the one being recruited. Specifically detail any unique experience which will put you ahead of other candidates, for example, the ability to speak another language, specialised computer expertise, or the fact that you delivered a major project.

Why Hire You

  • This is where you really sell yourself by mentioning the skills and strengths you bring which exactly match the Job Description.  You should avoid just repeating what’s in your CV, but rather expand on your qualifications and experience, and show how well suited you are you to this job. Explain why you have a genuine interest in the work offered and outline how you match the requirements of the role.

Desired Outcome

  • Finish your letter on a positive and enthusiastic note, stating that you are keen to come along for an interview at the employer’s convenience. Mention also when you can start work especially if the employer is looking for someone to start soon.

Close

  • Finish with “Yours Sincerely” and sign the letter personally.

Presentation can be the key to success when applying for a job and first impressions count for a lot. Your covering letter and CV will precede you, and they need to be clear, concise, and intelligent.  Spending time on your cover letter can reap rewards and quickly bring in those desired interview invites.

Be Ready For Those Tough Interviews

So after all your hard work creating that killer Cover Letter and CV and finally getting invites to interview, are you confident you can succeed in the last hurdle – the job interview? I am confident that InterviewGold will help you succeed and get the job you deserve; after all it has helped thousands of jobseekers since 2006 and is the No.1 online interview training system.

About the Author |
Joe McDermott is CEO of Anson Reed the UK's leading interview coaching specialists and founder of the successful InterviewGold online interview training system. Since 2006, Joe and his team of top interview coaches have helped over 35,000 people and in this blog they offer their expert advice - all to make sure you get your top job.
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