By producing a positive and relevant cover letter that directly relates to the job you're applying then you are going to set yourself apart from your competition.
A cover letter should accompany your CV unless you are told otherwise. It gives you the opportunity for you to personalise an application and highlight key areas of your CV in more depth.
Keep your cover letter brief but ensure that it emphasises your suitability for the job. It can be broken down into the following sections or paragraphs:
- Opening statement - this should give the reason as to why you are writing the letter. Begin by stating the position you're applying for and how you heard about it
- Middle part – this is now your chance to explain what attracted you to this vacancy and type of work, why you're interested in working for the company and what you can bring to the table. Demonstrate how your experience, skills or abilities match the specific requirements of the job description
- Closing statement – a paragraph to indicate your desire for a personal interview so that you can find out more about the opportunity. Don’t forget to thank them for taking the time to read your cover letter and that you’re looking forward to hearing from them in due course.
You should always address the cover letter to the person who will be reading it. Bear in mind that you are more likely to receive a reply if you send it to the right person. Advertised positions can sometimes include a contact name, but if not, it is worth taking the time to find out who the letter should be addressed to.
Employers often receive a large volume of applications for a vacancy so you will need to ensure that your cover letter stands out from the crowd. Here are some basic rules for you to ensure that yours does just that!
- Keep it to the point and be concise – certainly keep it to a single side of A4
- Be consistent with the paper that you use for both the letter and the CV – try to use as good a quality as possible
- Make sure that you relate your skills, abilities and experience to the job and make a case as to why the employer should want to interview you
- Read through it several times making sure that your grammar and spelling is correct – don’t just rely on your computer’s spell check!
- Don’t just repeat the same old cover letter – make sure you tailor it for each application
- Check and double-check to make sure you’ve got all the details correct
- If sending via email then include it as an attachment rather than the body of the email
- Use the cover letter to explain any large gaps in your work history
Here are some examples of cover letters when applying to a company either speculatively or for a particular vacancy,