Five steps to writing a successful cover letter

Man on his laptop typing up his cover letter

A well written cover letter can be just as important when looking for a job as your CV.

Employers will often spend less than a minute looking at job applications and your cover letter is an opportunity to stand out against other applicants.

Thoroughly researching your prospective employer, taking the time to personalise your cover letter and ensuring that its content is valuable to the hiring manager can all make a critical difference. 

1. Knowledge is key

Your cover letter is your chance to show what you know about the role and company and highlight how your experiences allow you to be a good fit for the job. So research the company and the job you are applying for and incorporate some of that information into your cover letter. Researching a company in advance also demonstrates initiative and shows that you are genuinely interested in what a company does.

2. Address your letter

The last thing you want is your letter and CV to go to the wrong person, or to nobody at all. If a contact person is mentioned in the job advert, make sure to always address your letter to that person. If no specific person is listed, you can address it to the manager or supervisor of the department you are applying to and can usually find this information on the company website.

3. Don’t just copy your CV

Your cover letter is a chance to expand on your CV. You don’t just want to list your qualifications and experience, instead opt for comments on how you can directly add value to the company.

One great way to show how you will bring value to a company is by giving tangible examples of work you’ve done which directly relates to the job requirements. Give two or three sentences explaining the tasks, how you were able to complete them and the benefit to your employer.

4. Keep it short

Almost half of employers prefer a cover letter which is about half a page in length, too short and it can look like you didn't put much effort into it and too long may lose the readers' interest. We find the best cover letters tend to be three paragraphs, or half a page, at the most. This should give you enough time to sell yourself to the company without giving long and unnecessary information.

5. Have someone proof read your letter

Common, easy mistakes can make the difference when an employer is deciding between two candidates. Once you have written your cover letter, have someone proof read it to catch any mistakes. Make sure the spelling and grammar are correct and then read through the letter a final time to make sure the sentences are concise.

 

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