Your covering letter is a key part of your job application. It is an important document to a prospective employer. It is surprising that jobseekers often pay scant attention to it. Many candidates fail even to write one and only submit their CV or application form. Craft a strong covering letter and your application could really stand out from the crowd. So, if it’s of such importance you’ll need to know how to produce the perfect covering letter. That’s where we step in with our top ten tips for writing cover letters with impact..
Always send one!
The covering letter’s job is two-fold. At its basic level, the standard one-page covering letter performs a simple courtesy function. It is a socially acceptable way of introducing who you are and explaining which job vacancy you’re applying for, or which area of employment you are enquiring about. It also provides the recruiter with your contact details.
Don’t rewrite your CV
It should provide edited, detailed highlights from your Curriculum Vitae. However, it should not merely repeat CV content but rather distil the key themes into one place.
First paragraph and last line
Be specific and clear. Sell yourself by stating what makes you better than others straight off. Finish with a call to action. Politely request that they contact you for a meeting or interview and how you look forward to meeting with them in person.
Talk about the company
Do some research into the company/ organisation and include information about them. Specifically tell them what you are impressed with and what attracts you to them.
Provide specific evidence of your qualities
Pick out the top 3 or 5 (max) qualities the employer is seeking in their advert or job specification if there is one. These should be qualities that you have already covered in your CV.
And they should be the 3 to 5 things that you refer to – not explain – briefly in your covering letter. Provide concrete examples and solid numbers wherever you can. For example, after you’ve introduced yourself in your letter you could include lines like these:
“You will see from my enclosed CV that I match your requirements precisely. I have worked in the Web industry for over 10 years and have led a number of development teams that have ranged in size from 5 to 20 people.”
“You will see from my CV that I have worked in both the USA and Canada and have worked in senior positions on aerospace contracts ranging from £15m to £180m”
Your covering letter is therefore an additional ‘sales‘ document…selling you!
Reflect your personality
Ensure the letter shows how motivated and enthusiastic you are. Do not include negative comments. Try to use dynamic acting verbs for each skill you are explaining, such as:
Research – Analysed, clarified, critical thinker
People skills – Collaborative, excellent communication skills
Teaching – Instilled, motivated, logical
Relevant and brief
A well-written letter should draw the recruiter’s eye to relevant experience on your CV. It is a brief space in which you draw a positive pen-picture of you in the mind of the employer. Ensure it is never more than a page long.
Where ever possible send your letter and CV to a named individual, particularly if it is more of an enquiry than a specific role application. Research using websites, ask friends and colleagues if they know of anyone or ring through to reception and get yourself a name and job title. It will look a lot better than sir/ madam.
- Sign the letter
Unless you’ve had to sign an application form, your covering letter is the only place where you provide your signature. This may seem old fashioned in this digital age but it’s still a strong signal of your authenticity.
Finally, make sure your covering letter is clearly laid out with no typos or spelling errors. Do this and, compared to many job seekers, you’ll already stand out as an impressive candidate!
We hope you find our our top ten tips for writing cover letters useful.