Writing Cover Letters

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Cover letters accompany your CV when you contact a recruiter in relation to a job application. These letters are used to introduce yourself to their company, highlight your interest in the role and entice the reader to place your CV on their ‘to review’ list, rather than in the bin…

A cover letter is often the first contact you have with prospective employers and underestimating the importance of creating a professional, tailored, introductory letter can seriously damage your chances of securing a job interview. Make no mistake, a poorly written cover letter will result in your CV being ignored.

Before digital technology (I am old enough to remember these days), a cover letter literally was a separate written letter posted to the employer, along with a copy of your CV. These days cover letters tend to be written within e-mails or application webforms found on recruiter websites. Be mindful that a strong cover letter needs to be succinct. There should be no reason to write five or six paragraphs of text within a cover letter. A few short punchy paragraphs will be a lot more efficient than pages of mind numbing text.

Your cover letter is often the one chance you have to sell yourself to a potential employer so you must make sure it is written with relevance to the role. There is nothing worse than reading what is obviously a cut and paste standard ‘one size fits all’ cover letter. You can spot them a mile away and they tend to go straight in the bin, along with the CV and the dreams of the applicant!

When you first start planning a cover letter try to break the text into these different headings.   


OPENING

Make sure you tell the recruiter which job you applying for and how you found out about it.

“Please find attached my application in relation to your advertisement on the internet for a Marketing Director.”


CURRENT SITUATION

Tell the recruiter here what role you are currently working within.

“I am currently working as Senior Marketing Manager at Company Z and have been working within the organisation for eight years.”


THE ROLE

Inform the recruiter here the attractiveness of the opportunity.

“After eight successful years with my current employers, I noticed your fantastic opportunity, which has lots of synergies with my current role and business experience.”


REFERENCE YOUR CV

Now you want to point out a couple of key successes from your CV but these MUST relate to the role you are applying for, ideally these should match some of the ‘must have’ experiences of the job description.

“I have extensive experience in social media community management and knowledge outsourcing, both of which I notice are experiences listed as desirable skills within the job description.”


EDUCATION AND INDUSTRY RELATED ACHIEVEMENTS

Now you have the recruiter’s attention, next you want to convince them about your knowledge of their organisation and the position being advertised.  You can do this by mentioning some of your key career achievements *relevance being the key theme here*, skills and personal qualities that make you suitable for this role.

“I have always admired your organisations commitment to sustainable business solutions and noticed that this commitment forms an important part of the role. I successfully pioneered the social responsibility strategy for two separate organisations within my last two roles and I would love the opportunity to discuss some of these successes with your organisation as part of my application.”


EXPERIENCE


Leading on from the above section this is a nice spot to briefly highlight more of your experience relevant to the job.

“Alongside my social responsibility experience, I have accumulated extensive experience in Direct Marketing and customer facing artificial intelligence tools, technologies and skills that form a prominent theme within the job description.”


ASSETS

Be sure to name some of your strengths, stressing clearly upon the skills & business abilities that present you as the perfect applicant.

“My strengths include………..and I feel these skills and experiences would help me succeed in the role for your business.”


CLOSING COMMENTS

When you start to close out the cover letter content you want to leave the reader with a positive lasting impression. Their definition of excitement will arrive in thinking they have found someone perfect for the role, so tell them this!

“I believe I have the perfect mix of skills and experience to add real value to your organisation.”


CLOSE

One failure I often see in cover letters is the lack of any indication that the applicant actually wants to be interviewed! Make you sure you clearly ask for an interview with the organisation.

“Thank you for taking the time to read my cover letter and I look forward to having the opportunity of meeting with you to discuss the role further.”


CONTACT DETAILS

Don’t ever restrict the recruiter to one form of contact medium, or worse provide a ‘best time’ for them to contact you. Simply give them your details and leave it up to them.

“I have listed below my contact details and I look forward to hearing from you.”