For many job applications you will be required to write a cover letter to highlight and expand on key information from your CV. This is your opportunity to show that you fit the job description and are capable of fulfilling the advertised role. The aim is to persuade your prospective employer to invite you in for an interview and hopefully move you one step closer to getting the job.
Here are some of the main dos and don’ts when it comes to writing a great cover letter:
…address your letter to the person named on the job advert rather than to ‘sir or madam’ or ‘the hiring manager’.
…send an original cover letter for each job role. You need to be able to show why you’re a good fit for each particular opportunity rather than a blanket letter simply describing your skills and experience.
…use simple language and sentence structure. Get rid of any unnecessary words and phrases. Try to say keep it as brief as possible.
…check very carefully for typos, grammar issues and incorrect spacing. Doing so will ensure that your cover letter looks professional and shows that you have taken time to get it right. It may help to have a friend check it over for you as they may spot things you haven’t.
…include current contact details so prospective employers can get in touch easily.
…demonstrate that you have unique qualities to bring to the role and to the company as a whole.
…use examples to back up any claims you make.
…request an interview in the cover letter. This shows that you are proactive and committed to the role.
….waste your first paragraph with waffle. Make a clear, concise statement explaining why you are the right person for the role.
…avoid clichés such as ‘team player’ and ‘attention to detail’. Instead, demonstrate that you have these qualities by using specific examples.
…use negative language. Keep it positive and avoid criticising your current boss or existing role at all costs.
…just rehash your CV. The hiring manager will already have that to look at, so use your cover letter to go a little deeper and to illustrate how your skills and experience will enable you to do the job.
…forget to enclose or attach both your cover letter and CV when you’re ready to send it out. Even if the job advert only requests a CV, adding a short cover letter will really strengthen your application.