A good cover letter is one of the most vital features of a job application and unfortunately, it is also one of the most overlooked.
Why is a cover letter so important?
Far from just repeating your resume or providing a background of who you are, the cover letter presents an opportunity to offer the employer a snapshot of why you are perfect for the specific job they are hiring for.
In this therefore, the focus of the cover letter is less about yourself and more about the employer.
How to Start?
After using a letterhead with your name and contact details, start your cover letter with the Specific Role you are applying for, for example:
RE: Application for Administration Officer, Job ID: 27654284
Continue with a brief opening that outlines your intent to apply for the position and introduces your experience in this area. E.g.
I am writing to apply for the Administration Office role, ID number 27654284 advertised on the 7th February, 2017.
Having 10 years’ experience in similar administration positions, I understand the fast paced nature of the Administration world and the necessity to focus on detail, time management and an excellent work ethic.
Go on to address the specific criteria they have listed in their job advertisement in a brief but specific outline of your experience.
Experience: Your advertisement has outlined necessary skills including….. I have gained experience in these areas whilst working at …… I fully understand how to use the following platforms and databases…. I have supported teams on these projects… etc
Achievements: From the utilisation of the above skills I have achieved…
Once you’ve outlined specifically how you match the criteria for the role, you need to address why the company you are applying to is of interest to you. This means doing some research (which will also come in handy at interview stage). Most companies have excellent bio’s explaining who they are and what they believe in, comment how these align with your own beliefs and goals.
Always thank the reader for their time and consideration and sign off with your full name.
Grammar and Spell Check
Once you’ve written your cover letter, MAKE SURE you go back through to grammar and spell check. You may be extremely organised and have incredible attention to detail, but if you have errors in your cover letter, the reader will not get this impression.
Also check the length of your cover letter. The basic rule of thumb is that the cover letter should be no longer than three quarters of a page.
Yes, this is time consuming…
I can almost hear the question as I write this article but yes, you do have to write a new cover letter for every role you apply for. If they are similar positions you can do minor edits, but every cover letter needs to be specific to the role.
Yes, it takes time and effort but a successful job hunt is rarely an easy exercise and it is worth ensuring you get off on the right foot from the beginning of the process.