Want to land an interview to your dream job? If you follow these guidelines, you might just get an interview from your cover letter alone.
What should a good cover letter do?
Your cover letter needs to be a focussed sales pitch that outlines why you’re the best candidate for the job. It’s important that you write a new cover letter for each and every job you apply to. It’s obvious to employers when a job seeker reuses the same cover letter over and over again, and it always ends in the same place – straight in the bin!
A good cover letter will do 3 main things:
- Outline what it is you’re applying for
- Explain why you’re interested in this job at this company
- Summarise your key strengths and skills and how they relate to this job
Let’s now take a look at how you build an amazing cover letter, and what to include in each paragraph.
You've got 30 seconds to impress your potential employer. So your opening paragraph needs to be short and sweet, whilst still attention grabbing. Make sure you state the job you’re applying for, where you found it and when you’re available to start. This shows your eagerness and commitment to the role.
It’s important to use this paragraph to tell the employer why it is you’re interested in this role and what attracts you to their company. For those with previous experience in a similar role or company, this should be easy, as you can draw on this to show how you've excelled in this type of work in the past.
If you've not had similar work experience, then some research on the company is crucial. You’ll need to use what you've learned to highlight why you want this job above anything else. Don’t be afraid to flatter – e.g. ‘you are the industry leader’. However you must be appropriate. Trying to flatter a start-up company with a compliment of being an industry leader will be seen through immediately by any self-aware employer.
Now for the most crucial part - summarise your strengths and skills, and relate them to the job description. This will not only show your worth, but also prepare you for the interview. (We’ll discuss why in part three of this series). But for now all you need to know is that if you cannot demonstrate how your strengths and skills are perfect this specific job, then you might as well not bother applying.
Lastly, don’t forget to state any dates that you are not available for an interview (don’t list too many dates – you want to make a good impression!) and thank the employer for their consideration. Sign off with ‘Yours Sincerely’ and your name.
How should you present your cover letter?
- Typed, and in a similar style to your CV (e.g. use the same font type)
- Put your address in the top right hand corner, miss a line and then put the date. The recipient’s address should go on the left, on the line after the date.
- Double/triple/quadruple check your spelling and grammar! Get a friend to proof read it once you’re finished.
For extra help, please see part one of our “How to get a job” series: 5 easy steps to writing your CV.