Your covering letter is the first impression you give employers so it’s important to have your Resume Cover Letter writing done professionally. If it doesn’t attract the reader’s attention almost immediately, your chances of being shortlisted or called for an interview are drastically reduced. Your aim is twofold: to clearly state which job you’re applying for and – most importantly – why.
You don’t need to regurgitate everything you’ve listed in your CV. Think of this more as a ‘personal statement’ detailing why you and your skills are right for the job. In other words, focus on tying together the company’s needs and how you can help them meet their objectives.
The first paragraph should ignite the reader’s interest. It should briefly outline how you will help them achieve the company’s goals and what value you can add.
The second paragraph can go into more detail. Focus on promoting yourself and demonstrating how your skills, abilities, qualifications meet the job requirements.
Use the third paragraph to cite specific accomplishments and educational achievements that support the claims you make in paragraph two. Ultimately you need to prove that you can do what you say you can (this may well take the form of bullet points).
The fourth paragraph should generate some kind of future action; whether that’s asking for an interview or telling the reader that you’ll contact them again in a week.
Finally, close the letter and show your appreciation for the reader’s time.
Do’s and Don’ts:
• Don’t discuss your salary expectations in a covering letter. If asked, provide a window (between £25,000 and £30,000 for example) and point out that this is negotiable.
• Do make sure it looks slick and professional. First impressions count so, if you’re posting the final application, use high-quality white paper. Avoid elaborate or coloured stationery. Print a clean final copy to send, not a photocopy. Make sure there are no smudges or marks.
• Keep it brief and to the point. Don’t ramble. And make sure it follows the same format and style as your CV (same font size, typeface, layout etc).
• Make sure it’s easy to read. Don’t use too small a font size.
• If you’re emailing your letter, make sure your document will open properly as an attachment and that your computer system is virus free. Instead of sending two separate attachments, send the covering letter as page one of your CV.
• Try to find the name and proper title of the addressee. If possible open with ‘Dear Mr’ or ‘Dear Ms’. Try to avoid ‘To whom it may concern’.
• If you know the name use ‘Yours sincerely’ if you don’t use ‘Yours faithfully’.
• Don’t use the same covering letter for every job you apply for. Customise it to suit the particular company/role.
• Most important of all proofread. Use spell check and get someone else look over it.
• Don’t lie or exaggerate. Be sure you can back up everything you claim.
• Avoid anything negative or controversial. That can be dealt with at interview.
• Try to not use the word ‘I’ excessively.
• Make sure the tone of your letter is enthusiastic, energetic and motivating.