How to Write a Cover Letter
Following on from our recent blog where we wrote about our top 10 tips for finding a new job, we thought it might be useful to run through how to write a good cover letter to help you secure that interview. Whilst writing a CV is essential when it comes to applying for jobs, a cover letter is just as important. It is the one chance you have to really sell yourself, and persuade the interviewers to meet you in person. Here is our step-by-step guide for writing a cover letter.
Do your Research
Just like you take the time to research the company you are interested in when you are looking for a new job, this needs to be clear within your cover letter too. Think about what the company does; who their competitors are; who their target customers are; what the role involves; and the skills required to carry out the job. Once you have this information, tailor your cover letter to these points. Make sure you match up your skills to what the employer is looking for.
Formatting your Cover Letter
The general rule of thumb is that your cover letter should be one page of A4 maximum. It should be well-written, grammatically correct, and concise. Busy organisations don’t have the time to read through pages of waffle when they are looking to employ someone. You need to make sure your cover letter says everything that it needs to, in an engaging way. Use a font that is easy to read and try to break up your text using paragraphs.
Addressing your Cover Letter
It is important that you remember a cover letter is still a letter, and should be written in such a way. It should be addressed to the person dealing with the applications (this will usually be found somewhere in the job advert). You should also be able to find this information on the company’s website if it is not visible on the advert.
Structuring your Cover Letter
This part is open to interpretation really; there are no set rules as to how you should structure your cover letter. The most important thing is to make sure that you highlight how you meet each part of the job specification, and the skills that you have which make you a perfect candidate. Here is a rough guideline for the structure, just to give you an idea:
- Open the letter with why you are getting in touch. This should be short, to the point, and explain which role it is that you are applying for.
- The second paragraph should go into detail about why you are the right person for the job. Remember your CV contains all your academic information so just expand on the important qualifications here.
- The third paragraph should highlight what you can bring to the table. If you are successful in your application, how will you help to grow the business? What are your career goals and aspirations? It is a good idea to include examples of how you have improved within your current role here.
- The fourth paragraph needs to remind the employer why they should meet you in person. Reiterate why you are interested in the role, and why you would be the right fit. By adding a sentence along the lines of ‘I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further’, this helps to show you would like to meet the employer for an interview.
Closing your Cover Letter
Signing off your cover letter is very important. You don’t want to get this part wrong after putting all that effort into the rest of the letter. If you know the name of the hiring manager, sign off with ‘Yours sincerely’ (make sure it is a small ‘s’). If you don’t know their name, sign off with ‘Yours faithfully, both followed by your name. You can always leave a gap to add your signature too if you want to make the cover letter a little more personal.
We hope this has helped to give you some ideas for writing your cover letter. Feel free to have a browse through our other blogs for useful tips when it comes to applying for a new job.
Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.