Ready to make your job application pop? This cool guide is all about nailing that cover letter, which is more important than you might think. It's like your CV's best friend, showing off your skills and passion in a way that's totally focused on the job you want. We'll walk you through what to put in (like your awesome achievements and skills) and what to skip (no rambling, please!). Plus, we've got some neat tricks for emailing it like a pro. This guide's all about helping you shine and snag that interview. Let's get started!
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What Is A Cover Letter?
Usually dismissed in the application process, a cover letter can catapult yourself into landing that initial interview. Hence why it is essential to know what a cover letter is. Attached to a CV, is the cover letter to your application. Unlike a CV, which is an overview of your skills, experience and accomplishments; a cover letter is tailored to the job at hand. Oh, and while you are here, take a look at our CV guide to ensure your application is flawless.
Cover Letter Layout
To keep everything neat and well-structured, it is important to know the layout of a cover letter. Follow the steps below and learn how to write a cover letter that is bound to get you noticed.
1. Contact information
Similar to a normal letter, the first section should include your contact information. This is placed on the right side of the letter and will have the following details:
- Your full name
- The first line of the address
You will now put who the letter is addressed to. Unaware of the name? No worries, you can just include Sir or Madam.
Minor detail but on the same line, add the date on the right-side (so it sits below your address).
Include the name of the position, along with the reference number (if applicable). This not only helps the recruiter, but adds a level of professionalism too. Double whammy.
Subject: [Name of Vacancy]
This should be 2-3 sentences long and should include your current status (if you are a student or not), your interest in the vacancy, and expressing that you wish to develop. Doesn't this remind you of the write my essay process?
You may think: How on earth do I cram in such information? This is why the subject header is important - you save on words!
Don't worry, further down we have included examples of a perfectly written introduction!
6. First paragraph
The first paragraph addresses your interest in the role and why you would like to work at this particular company. This is also the opportunity to say how you are suited to the role.
7. Middle paragraph
The topic of this paragraph is to highlight why the role appeals to you and discuss how the responsibilities of the position are suited to your needs. You can also share your previous work experiences and extra-curricular activities (as long as it is relevant!).
8. Final paragraph
The final paragraph is the chance to sell yourself. Tailor your competency skills to the role and include any achievements you have. Demonstrate your capabilities and how you will apply your work ethic to the role.
Conclude your cover letter by thanking them for their consideration and mention your CV is attached to the cover letter.
Ever get confused if you should put 'yours faithfully' or 'yours sincerely'? Well, today is your lucky day! Only use yours faithfully if you have addressed them as 'Sir/Madam'. Otherwise, you can use yours sincerely if you have used their name. Finally, include your name along with a contact number and email address below.
What To Include In A Cover Letter?
1. Relevant work experience
Have you undertaken previous work duties that are similar to the role you are applying for?
2. Recent achievements
Include achievements which demonstrate your proactive personality and high work ethic.
3. Skills tailored for the role
Look through the job description and include any skills you may have. No lying!
4. Simple language
Using fluffy words and Shakespearean language seems like a way to impress recruiters, however, you should keep it simple! Get straight to the point and use your words wisely.
5. Extra-curricular activities
Join those Harry Potter and sports societies to help boost your cover letter! FYT - drinking does not count.
How To Prepare A Cover Letter?
Quick recap. You know how a cover letter should look like and what lovely parts to include. But how do you go about writing one? There are steps to prepare, which will make it a far more pleasurable experience.
Research The Company
Tailoring a cover letter will involve knowing different parts of the company. No need to dig through thousands of pages on Wikipedia. Follow these pointers to help with writing your cover letter:
- Company's culture and values.
- Mission statement.
- Products, services and clients.
- Recent events and the news.
- Popular campagins.
With this wonderous amount of information, you can start connecting the dots. How do the company's values match your own? Did you find anything inspiring? Have they recently done charitable work? Weave this information throughout your cover letter, especially in the first paragraph.
Research The Role
What does the role entail? In the cover letter, it is your chance to sell yourself and proclaim why this role was made for you. And how do you do that? With research, of course!
- Day-to-day responsibilities.
- Required skills.
- Routes to progression.
From there, you can align your own set of skills with the role and mention any skills you wish to develop.
Yes, we know that sounds a bit dumbfounded, but listen up; it makes sense. The whole point of the cover letter is to talk about yourself and why the position is for you. And if you have no idea how to do that, it can make things a little tricky. Figuring out what you do and your past accomplishments will make this far easier.
- Your education and work experience.
- Extra-curricular activities you have done.
- Volunteer work.
- Any stand-out attributes. For example, do you have excellent customer service skills?
- Hobbies and interests.
What can you do with this information? Highlighting your personal qualities gives an insight to the recruiter on how well you would fit with the company's dynamics, which employers highly value.
How To Email A Cover Letter?
Your cover letter has finally been completed. What a masterpiece, you think. You feel like a literary grandmaster. Until you open a new email, put your CV and cover letter in the attachment and just before you press send, you realise that there is still one hurdle to take: writing an accompanying e-mail. An empty email with just an attachment is strange. But what do you write in the accompanying e-mail? Simple.
Address them as Sir/Madam, highlight what role you are applying for and mention the CV and cover letter are attached in the email. Read it through and make sure the documents are attached (You'd be surprised how many times people send a blank email!). Remember, an email full of errors does not set a good first impression.
What Not To Include In A Cover Letter?
Guess what, we are almost at the end! Knowing what not to include in a cover letter may seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised at some of the examples we have seen. You can spell out your experiences and have the ideal layout, but make any of the below mistakes and all your hard work could go to waste. Ouch.
1. Grammatical errors or spelling mistakes
The most obvious, yet one of the common mistakes to make. Get someone to proofread it and check it through Grammarly (it's free!)
2. Wage or salary expectations
We all know money is an incentive, but mention other interests in the role.
3. Fancy stuff
Unless it is a creative role you are going for, keep it simple! No need for highlighted words, vibrant colours or laminated paper to get yourself noticed.
4. No bitching
Never moan about your previous employment or school experiences. No one likes a complainer!
5. Incorrect information
Don't slip up and include the wrong company's name or any other errors! If this happens then you can wave bye-bye to that application.
6. Unprofessional email address
Long gone are the days of email@example.com.
Consider These Cover Letter Tips
Is your cover letter ready? Check through our checklist to make sure everything is perfect. If not, make sure to go back and edit your cover letter accordingly.
1. Don't waffle on!
Maximum is one page.
2. Match your tone of voice with theirs
Scan through the job description? How are they talking? If it is corporate, keep it like that. If it is fun and covered in rainbows, well you know the drill.
3. Remember your font size
Keep it to size 12 and font style Arial. Safest bet.
4. Sending an email?
Save it as a PDF so the format is locked.
Remember your white spaces! The recruiter many have hundreds to read through, to keep it an enjoyable experience for them.
6. Be enthusiastic
In the cover letter, don't do the whole: 'I want a job because I need one'. That doesn't say anything positive about yourself. Show off your excitement!
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