Cover letters are a
much-neglected component of any job search. Accordingly to one survey,
half of recruiters see cover letters as being as important as the CV
itself. Yet how much time do you devote to each cover letter? Applicants
often rehash the same cover letter for several applications, which can
really jeopardise chances of being invited to interview.
article post will focus on advert-responsive letters only (not on
Specculative cover letters). Most companies will request such a cover
letter alongside a CV in the first stage of the application process –
they are essentially the first test that the company is setting you.
Think about the purpose of the cover letter
cover letter is a vehicle for you to elaborate on the relevant skills
and attributes detailed in your CV, while allowing the reader to gain an
insight into your personality. It sets the tone of your application, so
it will pay dividends to give it the time it deserves. The goal of a
cover letter is to inspire the reader to turn over enthusiastically to
read your accompanying CV. A poorly written cover letter will get your
application off to a bad start and might even discourage the reader from
even reading your CV.
Think about what you want from your next job
We believe that there are two matches to be found and secured in the job application process.
obvious one is related to whether the candidate fits what the employer
is looking for – we’ll get onto this later on in this blog. The second,
and often neglected one, is whether the role, environment and company
match with what the candidate truly wants.
When preparing to
draft any cover letter, it’s important to have an honest and clear view
about what you want in any given role, and in what kind of environment
you’ll be able to flourish.
Thus, before setting off on
drafting your cover letter, write a list of the key criteria that must
be present in any job that you would be willing and happy to undertake.
If a job has been advertised and you are debating applying, don’t waste
your time if it doesn’t fit these criteria. It is essential to think
about what is important for you before considering whether you are right
for the job.
Do Your Research
is critical that you know as much as you can about the company you are
addressing your cover letter to. This may sound obvious, but it’s
surprising how many well-qualified candidates send the same cover letter
to several companies. This not only means they haven’t tailored their
skills and abilities to the specific role and company, but the recipient
might also see a lack of preparation as an indication of future
Some things to include:
is by no means an exhaustive list; the more research, the better. This
will also be great preparation for your interview. The more you know
about the company you are applying to, the more opportunity you have to
- Sector and sub-sector within which the firm operates
- Goods and services it provides
- Company’s mission
- Geographies in which it operates and the number of staff it has
- Senior management and ownership
- Company’s declared values
What You Have to Offer
At the most
fundamental level, the only reason why anyone gets hired is that the
recruiter believes they will add significant value to the company. Thus,
it’s important to know – before you start writing – what value you can
bring to the table.
Thus, conduct a ‘Skills and Attributes’
audit. This is a list of what you can bring to both a role and company.
Job advertisements usually contain information relating to the role
itself – duties and responsibilities – and the type of candidate they
are looking for – qualifications and experience. Bearing this in mind,
use your cover letter to emphasise why your skills and experience not
only matchwhat they are looking for, but also make you the perfect
candidate for the position.
The Nitty-Gritty Details
Make sure your opening address is correct. If you have a contact name,
use ‘Dear’ followed by their title and surname. Never use only their
first name or full name. If you don’t know their name, the correct form
of address is ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
If you opened your cover letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, end with ‘Yours
faithfully’. If you addressed your letter to a named individual, end
with ‘Yours sincerely’.
- Create a professional looking letterhead
- Include the recipient’s address if you are posting your cover letter
- Include a date on the right hand side
- Length: No longer than one page of size 11 font