When it comes to job hunting, getting your cover letter right is just as important as perfecting your CV! Your cover letter is a way to introduce yourself to the employer and is sent to accompany and expand upon your CV.
Many job hunters ask whether they need to write a cover letter when applying for a job, assuming that a CV should be enough. However, 57.1% of professionals rank the cover letter as an essential component of every job application – and with good reason.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your cover letter is a regurgitation of your CV and therefore a waste of time. Your letter is, in fact, a formalised way of introducing yourself and expanding on a few key areas that make you suitable for the role. This is a massive bonus if you’ve run out of room on your two-page CV. As a result, why wouldn’t you write a cover letter when it’s your number-one chance to tell the prospective employer more about why you’d make such a good hire?
Many recruiters and hiring managers receive hundreds of applications a day and can only spend a matter of seconds reviewing applications – so your cover letter needs to be good.
Below you will find useful guidelines to help you write a strong cover letter. Some recruiters may receive hundreds of applications a day, so your cover letter gives you a chance to stand out from the crowd (and with only 20 to 30 seconds to grab their attention, it needs to be good!)
A cover letter should complement, NOT duplicate, your CV.
The different types of cover letters
- The application letter which responds to a known job opening.
- The prospecting letter which inquires about possible positions.
- The networking letter which requests information and assistance in your job.
What to include in a cover letter
- Try to limit your letter to a single page.
- Match the employer’s needs and your skills that will appeal to the employer’s self-interest.
- Write in a style that is mature but clear; avoid long and intricate sentences and paragraphs.
- Use action verbs and the active voice; convey confidence, optimism, and enthusiasm couple with respect and professionalism.
- Show some personality. Start fast; attract interest immediately.
- Arrange the points in a logical sequence; organise each paragraph around a main point.
What to leave off your cover letter
- There is no need to share any personal information about yourself or your family
- If you don’t have all the qualifications the employer is seeking, don’t mention it.
How to organise a cover letter
- Find out to whom you’re writing.
« Dear Sir or Madame? » or « To whom it may concern? »
- State why you are writing.
Begin by telling the employer and the position you are applying for and how you learned about the opportunity.
- Establish a point of contact.
Advertisement in a specific place for a specific position; a particular person’s suggestion that you write.
- Give some brief idea of who you are.
- Highlight a few of the most salient points from your enclosed CV.
- Describe how your previous job experiences, skills, and abilities will allow you to meet the company’s needs.
- Stress action. Politely request an interview at the employer’s convenience.
- Indicate what supplementary material is being sent under separate cover and offer to provide additional information, and explain how it can be obtained (a portfolio, a writing sample, a sample publication, a dossier, an audition tape, a website / blog).
- Thank the reader for his/her consideration and indicate that you are looking forward to hearing from him/her.
Page format guide: 4 steps
- 1’’ – 1.5’’ margins are always a safe bet. Be careful not to make the content look crammed together.
- Don’t go below a 12-point font. Anything below 12 can strain the eyes.
- Font style is really a matter of preference. Try to choose one that looks professional or that matches what the employer uses on their website.
- Maintain a uniform alignment throughout. Keep all paragraphs left-aligned.