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Looking for a new job? Great! I’m sure you’ve already got your CV sorted, however most job applications require a cover letter to accompany your CV. While the CV offers an overview of your skills, achievements and work history, a cover letter is your opportunity to really sell yourself to the reader and highlight exactly why you feel you are the perfect candidate for the role. Your cover letter can either make or break your chances for an interview, and this is why it is such an important document to get right. We’ve got some top tips below to help you create the perfect cover letter.
Research the company & the job role
Before you put pen to paper, you must first take the time to do some research — both into the company where the vacancy has arisen, and also the job role itself. You need to find out what the business does, who it’s target audience is, and who its competitors are. Regarding the job you are applying for, you need to find out what the role involves and what skills you need to perform it.
Once you have gathered all of this information together, you can use your cover letter to explain what you can bring to the company and the job role. Don’t feel embarrassed if it is obvious that you have done your research — they will be impressed that you bothered to do it.
How to address a cover letter
Your cover letter should be addressed to the person in charge of recruitment at the company. If their name isn’t offered in the job advert, it is worth trying to find it out — either through the internet or by giving the company a call. Using the person’s name on the cover letter shows initiative, determination and attention to detail — all desirable skills for any job. If you’ve tried but can’t find a name, don’t worry — ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ will do.
How to format a cover letter
There are no strict rules to follow when it comes to formatting a cover letter but here are a few guidelines it is best to follow:
- Keep it concise — between half a page of A4 and a full page is perfect. If you write too much, your application may be overlooked.
- Keep it simple — write it by hand if you have clear handwriting and want to stand out from the crowd or use a clear font if typing it. Don’t use photos, pictures, or any other embellishments!
How to structure a cover letter
Again, there are no set rules for the structure of your cover letter but here are some top tips for laying it out in a way that means you won’t miss out anything important.
The general layout should be:
This section should cover why you are getting in touch. In a concise manner, outline which job you are applying for and where you saw it advertised.
Why you are suitable for the job
Use the next paragraph to explain why you are the ideal candidate for the job. Briefly outline the professional and educational experience you have which is relevant to the role, matching it to the essential skills listed in the job advert.
Why you’d be an asset to the company
Use this paragraph to tell them why you’d be an asset to the company, using examples from your current or past employment. For example, what did you achieve for your past employer? Did you boost sales? Build the brand via social media? Manage a team successfully?
Summarise why you’d be a great fit for the job and the company, and end with saying you look forward to meeting with them to discuss the role in more detail.