Whether applying for an advertised role or just making a speculative approach to a company that you would love to work for, writing a cover letter is critical. In many cases, the document is just as important as the resume or application form that it accompanies.
It creates that all important first impression and should always make a positive impact so that the recruiter is motivated to read your resume and find out more about you.
The purpose of the cover letter is not just to repeat everything that your resume says but to expand on your skills, experiences and achievements. It also gives you the opportunity to express your personality more than you can in the resume.
The main aim of the cover letter is to help you to secure an interview, so here are some top tips for writing a cover letter to help you achieve this goal.
Do your research! Tailoring your letter to the company you are applying to and, if appropriate, the specific job role is absolutely vital. You need to show that you are familiar with the work the company does and the industry it operates in. You also need to be able to outline your reasons for applying as well as the reasons why they should employ you. You therefore need to use your letter to outline what makes you an ideal fit for that company.
If you are responding to a job advert, make sure that you do exactly what it asks of you in the letter. For example, include the job reference number if there is one, answer any specific questions that are asked, such as salary expectations, and address the letter to the correct person or department.
It is a massive waste of your time and the recruiters if you apply for a job role that you are simply not qualified or experienced enough to perform. So have a look at the job role and what it involves and use your cover letter to demonstrate how you meet the essential criteria.
Many recruiters use scanning software in the first instance so it is a good idea to pick up on keywords either from the job advertisement or from the company website. You shouldn’t make it obvious by just randomly inserting the keywords out of context but try to incorporate them into relevant examples of your experience.
Unless otherwise instructed, the cover letter should always be typed, not handwritten, and printed on high quality paper. Use the same paper as you have used for your resume or application form to ensure consistency.
Spelling and grammar errors in the cover letter must be avoided at all costs. Your letter is meant to create a great first impression and careless mistakes could mean that you miss out on the opportunity for an interview.
As a general rule, the cover letter should be no longer than one A4 page unless specifically instructed otherwise. Four or five paragraphs is generally sufficient.
Even though it isn’t a long document, it is not as easy as it sounds to prepare a cover letter. Make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time. These tips for writing a cover letter should help you stay on track.
Remember, the more time and effort you put into this important document, the better your chances of getting through to the interview stage.