The cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself to the employer. It's a chance to make an impression, and with the right cover letter, hopefully that impression will be a good one. Like CVs, cover letters each tend to have a set layout and generally follow a set structure:
- Describe the job you're applying for.
- Say where you found out about it.
- How soon you can start.
- Why you're interested in the vacancy.
- What it is about the company that attracts your interest.
- This is where you sell yourself. Say what you're good at and how your skills relate to the vacancy .
- Thank the employer and say you look forward to hearing from them soon.
Writing a cover letter is one thing, writing a good
cover letter is something else entirely. Here's a few useful pointers to get the ball rolling:
- The cover letter is just that, a letter. Make sure to use the traditional letter format, remembering to include the sender address and contact info, the current date, and beginning the letter with "Dear sir/madam," or even better, the actual name of the recruiter. Remember to finish the whole thing off with "Yours faithfully" (for formal) or "Yours sincerely" (if you have used their name), followed by your own name and handwritten signature. If you get these basics right, then you're giving yourself the best possible head start.
- The point of this introduction is to tell the employer just who you are and more importantly why they should hire you. It's all about selling yourself. Put yourself in the eyes of the employer and ask yourself if the cover letter meets the requirements of the vacancy. Ask yourself "Can this person do the job?" and "Does this person want the job?"
- In terms of size, there's no need to go over a single page. This is just an introduction after all, and a short one at that. No employer wants to spend their day reading your life story.
- Research the history of the company. Find out just what you're getting yourself into and then make sure to mention what you've learned in your cover letter. Expressing an active interest in the company you're applying for will put you head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.