There’s no doubt a well written cover letter can boost your chances of being invited to an interview. In contrast to your CV, your cover letter enables you to explain why you are a good fit for a position and your reasons for wanting to work for an organisation.
If you’ve never written a cover letter or it’s been a while,the following guide will take you step by step through the process of writing a winning cover letter.
First things first
Your first task is to understand what the employer is looking for. Identify the key criteria which you’ll find in the job ad and in the job description. List all the skills, experience and qualities they have mentioned so that you can be sure to include these in your cover letter wherever possible.
Writing your cover letter
Your information:Your name, address, email address and telephone numbers. You can also include your LinkedIn address here.
Addressee’s information:Name, Title, Organisation name, address
Salutation: e.g. Dear Ms Smith,
Always include the name of a person wherever possible rather than using Dear Sir/Madam. It’s not only more personal but shows professionalism.
Subject line:Include a subject line indicating the nature of your letter e.g. Part-time Administrator – Head Office
The introduction paragraph is where you will introduce yourself and the reason for your letter. Describe how you found out about the role. Did you find it on a job board, via LinkedIn or did someone tell you about the vacancy?
Briefly describe your suitability e.g. ‘As a qualified Accountant with more than 20 years’ experience in a corporate environment I am well suited to the role.’ Outline your relevant qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience. Use the job ad and job description to guide you, being sure to give examples of your directly related experience. Give specific examples wherever possible e.g ‘In my current role, I have successfully transformed an under performing sales team into an award-winning sales force that has managed to triple its sales figures in just over a year.’
You can include up to three paragraphs in the body of your cover letter. Remember, your cover letter is merely an introduction to you and your CV. It shouldn’t duplicate the content of your CV but highlight key reasons why you’re a good fit for the position.
You might choose to bullet point your matching skills and experience to make it easier for the reader to see your suitability for the role.
Finish off your letter with a closing paragraph that re-states your interest and mentioning that your CV is attached. Mention that you are keen to meet with them to further discuss your suitability.
Sign off with ‘Yours sincerely’, your signature and your full name. For further tips on writing your cover letter be sure to read Top Ten Cover Letter Writing Tips
To help with formatting your cover letter we’ve created this template.