For any job applicant, a cover letter is a perfect complement to a Curriculum Vitae. But despite its importance, the effect of a good cover letter is often overlooked and underestimated. According to Indeed, a cover letter will most likely be read before the CV and gives the applicant the opportunity to express all the things that cannot comfortably fit into his CV. When structured and presented together, a CV and cover letter help to portray the applicant in the best possible light.
Make it a Unique Cover Letter
The most important thing to remember when writing a cover letter is that it must be unique to the applicant and the employer, too. Knowing how to write a cover letter will make the applicant stand out. Be sure to make the cover letter personal and relate to the role advertised. Seeing as it is a letter to the prospective employer, the perfect cover letter should ideally include the applicant’s address and contact details at the top right-hand corner.
Avoid sending a generic covering letter that bears no relation to the job being applied for. Most employers can tell when an applicant has simply changed the company name and job title in a pre-drafted letter and would immediately skip to the next candidate who has invested more time in the application.
Address the Employer Directly
Starting a cover letter for a job application with the generic address “Dear Sir/Madam” is unlikely to do the applicant any favors or indeed enhance his chances of progressing to the next stage of the job application process. Instead, addressing the hiring manager and company directly at the start of the cover letter, the application letter is likely to be read with enthusiasm and anticipation.
If the details are not provided in the advertised vacancy, try to find out the name and job title of the person interviewing for the job. Either call up the company and ask for this information or perhaps search on their website. Conducting this little bit of research helps prospective employers distinguish who is more suitable for the role they are recruiting.
Be Clear and Concise
Although there is no specific way to structure a cover letter, it is always a good idea to plan it out in order to avoid repetition. The opening sentence is the ice-breaker and should be treated as such. Be specific and get straight to the point by stating what is being sought. For example, start with a sentence similar to:
“I am writing to you regarding the opening of “Area Manager” that was recently advertised in the Daily Telegraph and would be grateful if you would consider my application for this role.”
The next step is to make it clear to the prospective employer which aspects of the role attract you and explain why you feel you are the right candidate.
Outline Strengths and qualifications
Once the ice has been broken and the reader is aware that the job is right for the candidate, addressing the candidate’s relevant skills, strengths and experience would show that he is also right for the job. This is the right stage to elaborate some of the points highlighted on the CV but be careful not to repeat too much of the CV.
Specify any significant skills and experience that relate to the job requirements and explain how they fit. For example, if the job requires teamwork, the candidate can explain how his team-working strength would be beneficial to the company, and particularly the role he is applying for, and provide a clear explanation of how he performs in a team.
Being clear and specific is key to producing an incomparable cover letter for a CV. Be open and provide explanations for each point given. Do not leave it to the employer to discover why you are suited to the job. It is also a good idea to include your availability in the closing paragraph of the cover letter and specify if you are flexible. A cover letter approached in a structured manner will show initiative – skills largely admired by employers.