Ever wondered why do I need to do a cover letter and what should I put in it? Surely my CV is enough?
Wrong! A cover letter on its own isn’t going to secure you a job. However a badly written one one is likely to sow the seeds of doubt into your potential employers mind.
Think of your cover letter as the first page of your CV. A brief letter saying, ‘please find enclosed CV’ isn’t going to get you very far.
A good cover letter explains, succinctly and with clarity, why you are worth being asked for interview. It puts the flesh on to the bones of your factual CV – it whets the reader’s appetite.
A well written and constructed CV demonstrates that you have the key skills of self expression through the written word – something which could be claimed to be a dying skill set in today’s world of internet searching and word processing.
It provides the employer with the personal touch – something which is likely to be intrinsically absent from your CV.
It points out to the employer, whatever type of cover letter you’re writing – e.g. part time work, unemployed, student, career change , experienced professional etc- the information that demonstrates to the employer that you have the qualities an essential ‘fit’ that the job calls for.
Essentially your cover letter is a self acclaimed competency statement for the job you’re applying for.
So what do I need to include in my cover letter?
Cover Letter Essentials
• Think about content and layout. Use the same grade and colour paper as your CV
• Unless a handwritten response is specifically asked for then you should type your letter
• Keep it clear and concise – you don’t want the employer not being sure what you’re trying to say – or even what job you’re enquiring about!
• Don’t state information in the covering letter that is already in your CV
• Try and keep it to one side of A4
• Use your own words – not formal long winded clichés – action verbs are good to use
• Spell check and double spell check -and don’t forget to check the grammar
• Ask yourself, if I received this letter, would I want to see me?
• Make the person whose reading the letter feel special – take the time to find out who will be receiving the letter and address it them personally
• Demonstrate some understanding of the Company, it shows you have taken the trouble to find out about the business and thought about why you might fit the criteria they are looking for
• Relate your skills to the job, if you are a good team worker or have led teams and the job requires this then make some reference to it, but do it briefly
• Say when you’re available to start
How to structure a cover letter
Think about how you’re going to start and end your letter.
The protocol that works well is that if you start with a name; e.g. ‘Dear Mr Smith’, then you should end with ‘Yours sincerely’. If you start your letter with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ then you end with ‘Yours faithfully’.
For the first paragraph then;
• State the job you’re applying for
• Where you found about the job (it’s helpful for organisations to know that their advertising has been successful. Equally if you found out through a friend or acquaintance then let that be known too)
• When you are available to start work
The second paragraph is where you can expose a bit about yourself;
• Why you’re interested in the job
• Why the company attracts you – if its a small company then say you’re keen to work for such a company and why
The third paragraph is the one that needs to get you noticed;
• Summarise your strengths – and how they might add value to the organisation
• Relate your skills and competencies required in the job – these are your unique and personal selling points
And finally the last paragraph;
• Note the dates when you will be available for interview
• Thank the employer for taking time to read your letter and CV and that you look forward to hearing from them soon
courtesy of www.wordsworthreading.co.uk