Applying for a job doesn’t just mean sending off your CV or completing an application form. In most cases you ought to also submit a cover letter (or email) to accompany these. Whilst some candidates make the mistake of either not doing a cover letter at all or simply briefly stating “Please find attached my CV/application form” etc., other candidates realise that the cover letter can be another way for them to sell themselves to a prospective employer. If you fall into the former camp and are a tad unsure about what to write, these basic tips on cover letters, and how to improve them, should hopefully help.
Identify the correct recipient
Generally speaking it is always best to identify who the rightful recipient of your letter (and CV or application form) should be. If you are unsure, contact the company or recruitment agency and ask for a specific name. Of course if they don’t provide that, you will have to down the route of Dear Sir/ Madam. but you should still clarify the right department or division that your letter should go to. Admittedly this is less personal but is professional nonetheless. You should also clarify with them the correct department or even position that the person holds – that way you will at least be doing all that you can to ensure that the letter ends up where it is supposed to!
A cover letter ought to be given the same care and attention that you give to your CV. In other words, you should always check it over for any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Remember too that spell check functions do not always pick up on errors so it may be wise to get someone else to do the checking for you. A fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference. Your aim with your cover letter is to make a good first impression so any mistakes or errors will certainly not help you do that.
Use it to sell yourself
No matter if you are applying for a job that has been advertised or you are contacting the employer for prospective or potential vacancies which may arise, the objective is the same. Your cover letter is an initial introduction to you and your accompanying CV or form. It therefore is almost like an ‘elevator pitch’ of sorts. You ought to summarise in as clear and precise a way as possible that your skills and experience are an ideal match for the employer’s requirements. There is no need to be long winded or to write a lengthy diatribe about everything you have ever done. You should simply highlight as briefly as possible how you are a suitable and credible candidate and why therefore they ought to take your application further.
Don’t duplicate things
Your cover letter should not consist of everything you have included in your CV. It should instead be almost like an introduction to the main show! If you make the mistake of revealing everything in your CV, you are in a sense revealing too much too soon. It is much better to use it to simply grab the employer or recruiter’s attention or pique their interest. That way they are more likely to want to find out more about you and they’ll do that by looking at your CV.
Tailor and adapt
Just as you do with a CV, you should also tailor your cover letter for every job that you apply for. It is best to perhaps create a basic template letter and then adapt it depending on the role. The initial introduction in the letter and the ‘sales pitch’ element ought to be changed for every role that you apply for. Having a more personalised letter like this will give you much better results than a generic version which you use for every job you apply for. Employers and recruiters alike can spot those a mile off!
We hope that you find these basic tips on cover letters to be of use. Got any others that you’d like to share? Why not let us know via the comments section below.
You might also like to check out some of these recent posts;
Tips for writting an email cover letter
A few funny cover letters