Ever wondered why do I need to do a cover letter and what should I put in it? Surely my CV is enough? Wrong!
The cover letter is the first page of your CV. It’s not an addition to it! A brief letter saying, ‘please find enclosed CV isn’t going to get you very far’.
A cover letter on its own isn’t ever going to secure a job by itself but a badly constructed and worded one is likely to sow the seeds of doubt into your potential employers mind.
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?
Well here are the essential basics;
• 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
• If using email then put your covering letter as the body of your email. Add your CV as an attachment
• 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 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 – and why you might fit the criteria they are looking for
• Relate your skills to the job – if you’re 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
That’s really great stuff, but how do I say all that in one side of A4? … How do I structure my cover letter?
Well first of all 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
Is there anything else I need to know?
It’s not a bad idea to think of the writing rules of George Orwell (after all he was pretty good at it)
• Never use a long word when a short one will do
• If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out
• Never use the passive voice (e.g. Bones are liked by dogs) where you can use the active voice (Dogs like bones)
• Never use jargon if you can think of an everyday equivalent
So good luck in creating your cover letter. Following the above rules will put you on the right track.
courtesy of www.wordsworthreading.co.uk