How do I write a cover letter?

A good cover letter can increase your chances of getting a job interview

Written by spunout

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A cover letter is a letter that you send to an employer to express your interest in a job opportunity. You usually send it alongside a CV when you are applying for a job. 

A good cover letter will show a potential employer that you are serious about the job that you are applying for. It can also help you stand out from the other applicants.

How to create a great cover letter

If your cover letter is engaging, it is more likely that an employer will read your CV and invite you for an interview.

Make each one original

It is very important to tailor your cover letter to each job you apply for. While the structure of every cover letter may be similar, each one should be relevant to the job opportunity.

When tailoring your cover letter, try to address it to the actual hiring manager rather than “To whom it may concern”. If their name is not mentioned in the job advertisement, you could consider phoning or emailing the company and asking who to send job applications to.

It isn’t necessary to mention all of your experiences and skills in a cover letter. Instead, highlight the things that are most relevant to the job you are applying for. A cover letter should be brief and to the point and never longer than a page.

Read the job description and reply to it

When writing a cover letter, try to use words and phrases that are listed in the job advertisement.  

You can begin your cover letter by explaining why you are interested in the role and working with the company. When writing this paragraph, using words and phrases mentioned in the job description will help you to show your knowledge of the role and the company. Once you have done this, briefly mention the qualifications and experience you have that could make you suitable for the role.

In the next paragraph, you can give more information about the skills, experiences and achievements that you have that make you a good fit for the position. Read what skills and qualities the employer is looking for in a candidate and blend some of this language into your cover letter. Try to back up what you are saying.

For example: “You state that you are looking for someone with excellent knowledge of social media. In my former role as Social Media Coordinator for a non-profit organisation, I feel that I gained the knowledge and experience you’re looking for.”

Focus on your achievements and experience

If you don’t meet all of the requirements, try not to be intimidated. Most candidates won’t. Instead of focusing on what you cannot do, emphasise what you do have to offer and how keen you are on that company. Try to be as specific as possible. Find out more about what to write on your CV if you don’t have much experience.

Proofread and format your cover letter

Your cover letter will likely be the first thing a hiring manager will read so it is important to ensure that there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. You can use spell check or some of the free online tools such as Grammarly to check for spelling and grammar mistakes. It is also a good idea to ask a family member or friend to read through your cover letter before you send it.

It is important to include a header with your contact information and the date in the top right-hand corner of your cover letter. If you are emailing the cover letter, try to send it as a PDF. If a company does not have Microsoft Word, they will be unable to open a Word document.

For more advice on writing a cover letter, check out our sample cover letter.

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