Whether you are applying for a job by sending your CV by email or by post, it is generally common practice to send an accompanying cover letter. That cover letter serves as the first introduction to you, therefore it’s important that you take your time and make sure it’s as good as can be. Many candidates make the mistake of assuming that the cover letter just gets discarded and that employers or recruiters are only interested in the CV – that is certainly not the case. What you say and how you say it in the cover letter is very important too. Today we’ve outlined 5 Ways to Improve a Cover Letter which hopefully will help you when you’re next applying for a job.
Address the Right Person
It’s not only polite but it’s certainly more professional to address your cover letter to the person who is recruiting for the position – be they a recruitment consultant or a HR Officer or Manager. A generic ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ or ‘To Whom it may Concern’ introduction will do you no favours. Contact the employer or recruiter directly and find out who you should be contacting. A letter which is addressed personally to the correct person will be received much better than a generic one which is aimed at nobody in particular.
Check check and recheck
Just as you should do with your CV, check it repeatedly for spelling or grammatical errors. That doesn’t just mean you giving it a once over. If you aren’t too confident with your spelling prowess, get someone else to check it too. Also, don’t simply rely on the spell checker on your PC as very often words could be spelled correctly but may be entirely out of context and the spell check function may not pick up on that. A cover letter which is badly written and full of mistakes, spelling or otherwise sets a poor impression from the off.
It’s important to remember that your cover letter is the employer’s first introduction to you. You are contacting them because you are interested in a job they have advertised or are applying on a speculative basis. It’s essential then to ensure that you use the cover letter to ‘sell yourself’ – to outline in a clear and succinct way how your skills and experience match their requirements or would be of value to them. You should in a sense use the cover letter to pitch yourself to the employer – to summarise exactly why you are a credible candidate and how valuable an asset you could be to them.
Don’t just replicate
It’s best to think of the ‘sell yourself’ element of the cover letter as being almost like an elevator pitch for a business. You are simply trying to grab the person’s interest and get them hooked in finding out more. You should not therefore simply replicate the content of your CV within the body of your cover letter – or even elements of it. If you give everything away in the cover letter itself, what purpose is there in even including a CV.
Tailor it for the job
If you have a standard cover letter that you send for every job, chances are it’s not serving you well. Just as with a CV, your cover letter ought to be tailored for the job you are applying for. Don’t simply change the addressee name and the job title – change the entire content of the letter. Your introduction, your sales pitch should all reflect how you have the skills and experience that this job requires and that this employer wants – not simply any job and any employer.
We hope that these tips help. Got any others that you’d like to share? Why not let us know via the comments section below.