Writing a Winning Cover Letter
When applying for a job, many candidates submit just their CV or application form. But if you put in the time and effort, a good covering letter will help you to stand out from the crowd.
Covering letters should make the reader want to learn more about you. So to create a good first impression, make sure the letter is well constructed, does not contain any spelling mistakes or poor grammar, and supports what you’re saying in your CV.
Not sure where to start? Here’s our step-by-step guide.
Your cover letter should be a well-typed document in a readable font. Check and check again for any spelling or grammatical errors. And keep the letter brief and to the point – no longer than one side of A4 paper
It’s always best to address your cover letter to a specific person instead of defaulting to “Dear Sir or Madam”. If the job advert doesn’t include a name, check the company website or LinkedIn. Don't be afraid to call the company to ask for a contact name.
While it can be tempting to use the same cover letter over and over to save time, this is actually more likely to prolong your job search. Using a few different templates is fine, but make sure you personalise them each time. Pick the particular qualities that make you suited for each role, as well as explaining why the company appeals to you. You’re looking to make your application stand out among dozens – perhaps hundreds – of other candidates.
Do some thorough research on the company and the job you are applying for, and then include some of what you found in the cover letter. This shows that you have a real interest in the role. Look at what the company does, how and where it is placed in the market and any information on its competitors. Then write about what makes it different from other companies in the sector, and why those qualities appeal to you.
You want your cover letter to be memorable, so make sure you’re grabbing the reader’s attention from the very first sentence. Your goal is to show how you can be useful to the organisation, so describe the strengths you have to offer and how your skills and experience match the job description. You should also describe previous achievements and how they are relevant to the role.
Make sure you’re not regurgitating the information that’s already on your CV. Try to focus on the “why” instead of the “what”: why you chose this profession, why you have taken this path, why this role will fit into your career plan.
Highlight your assets, such as education or skills, accomplishments and personal qualities, in relation to the employer’s needs. Use dynamic verbs and avoid the passive voice to show you’re someone who takes an active role in achieving team goals.
End the letter with a specific statement; you can point the addressee to your CV for further details, and thank them for their time and consideration.