How to write a great cover letter

CVGuru Emma Alkirwi has some expert advice on whether to use and what to put in a cover letter if you are applying for a new job.

Job Application

 

When applying for a new role, there is often an option to attach or upload a cover letter. Uploading a CV is, of course, essential. However, there are more and more employers using various platforms to advertise positions where there is an automated cover letter within the application so you can simply attach your CV and hit on apply. So are cover letters still taken into consideration?

With the job market becoming more and more competitive, standing out from other applicants has never been as tough. If a recruiter is looking through numerous applicants and someone has taken the time to personalise a cover letter to them and inform them of their suitability of course this will make you stand out. This demonstrates dedication and commitment while allowing you to explain why you wish to apply for the position. It is also an opportunity to highlight your transferable skills if you are making a career change. These are things you just won’t put into a CV or, if you do, it would look out of place!

To assist you in compiling an effective cover letter I would suggest you adhere to a simple and effective structure:

  • Upper right: Clean, presentable header with your name, address, mobile number and email address. (extra tip: try to make your letter similar to the format of your CV for consistency)
  • Upper left: The company name and address
  • Dear [insert name]: try to go that extra mile and find out who is recruiting rather than Dear Sir/Madam, but if not, that is sufficient.
  • The subject (which many people miss]. It should be: Application for [title of job and reference number if there is one].
  • First paragraph: This should set out that you are interested in the role as you have the necessary industry specific experience or transferable skills. Briefly explain why you would like to apply for the role as you feel you are able to make a significant contribution to the organisation and you have the appropriate skills/experience/qualifications.
  • Second paragraph: This is where you outline your relevant experience for the role and possible example(s) of your success. You can refer to your responsibilities and achievements to really highlight what you need for the role, based on the job description.
  • Third paragraph: This is where you summarise any education or technical qualities for the role. It is also a good place to summarise other parts of your career experience, such as softer people or relationship management skills, that are suitable for the role.
  • Fourth paragraph: Why you wish to apply to work for the company and make sure you do some research as it shows you have gone the extra mile. (extra tip: this is a common interview question so make sure you really understand the company and the role to highlight why exactly you have applied for that role).
  • Sign-off: Remember it is Yours Sincerely if you know the name and Yours Faithfully if it is Sir or Madam
  • Length: Keep the letter to less than a page and preferably the main narrative (paragraphs 1 to 4) should
    make up no more than two thirds of the page.

There is lots of advice and templates you can obtain for a cover letter. Just make sure to keep your CV and cover letter are consistent and succinct. When you are job searching quality over quantity is always a winner!



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