Writing a cover letter can often be more difficult than writing a CV, you know what goes on your CV, you’ve lived your work life and all you need to do is write that down, but what goes in your cover letter can be a little more tricky. Sometimes it is handy to have a generic opening letter that simply explains who you are and what job you are applying for, but other times you need to get more personal.
Agencies will rarely take the time to read a lengthy cover letter. We see hundreds of applications a day and we have many jobs that we recruit for, to us the CV is more important. When you apply directly to a Company however, it’s a good idea to let your personality show a little though. We have five important tips to remember when you write that all important introduction.
Be aware of the length of your letter
Occasionally a Company will ask you a specific question that you need to address when applying for the job, they may ask for 500 words about yourself or they may not ask for anything at all. Take all instructions into consideration when you apply for any job. As a rule a three paragraph cover letter is enough, it should certainly not be any longer than your CV! The first paragraph should be an introduction of yourself; Your name, your profession and perhaps an explanation on how you found their job advert, the second paragraph should state why you would suit their role and their Company – remember to back up your points! “I have excellent customer service skills which is demonstrated by….” Your third paragraph should politely explain how the recruiter can contact you and remember to thank them for taking the time to read your application.
Address it to the right person!
If you can find the name of the direct recruiter then obviously address it to that person, ensuring you spell their name correctly! If you don’t know who the recruiter is, perhaps you are applying to a Company that you would love to work for but they are not necessarily advertising and you just want them to know who you are, write ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. You wouldn’t believe how many candidates email us and direct the email to ‘Dear Sirs’. In this day and age, when equal rights are so important it is a really good idea to bring yourself into the 21st century with your applications!
Tell them how your found their Company or details
It’s important to let a Company know that you’re not just applying for a job, but you’re applying to work with them! Something along the lines of ‘I was really interested to find that you are advertising for a vacancy via _____, I have been following your Company’s progress for many years now’ etc. etc. It’s not about flattery; it’s about proving you know who they are! Again, this should be in the first paragraph.
Explain why you would be a perfect candidate for their role.
Your CV will show what skills you have gained through your current and previous employment, but your covering letter will be a small chance to quickly explain how the skills you have gained could be put to good use for their business. E.g. ‘I believe I would suit the role of Sales Executive due to my experience with _____, where I was responsible for multiple small and large scale client accounts, I increased each client’s yearly sales by ____% and brought a handful of new business relationships to the table.’
Not only does this promote your own success but it also allows the employer to see that you would be an asset to their Company! This information should be in the second paragraph.
Thank them for their time
Let’s face it, you’re busy, they’re busy, everyone has other things to do, but you took the time to send them an email and they are taking the time to read it, so be polite and then casually mention that you ‘await their reply’, with a ‘kind regards’ and your full name to sign off. This is your third and final paragraph.
The idea of a cover letter is to pique the employer’s interest with a formal introduction, your CV will do the rest, so try not to stress too much about what you should include and you will find it much easier to write when you are applying for a job you really want! In fact, it would be a good indication as to whether a job is for you if you struggle to write anything!
If you have any more tips, let us know in the comments.