How to Craft a Compelling Cover Letter
If you’re applying for a lot of jobs, then writing a cover letter for every single one might seem like more hassle than it’s worth. However, much like editing your CV for each role you apply for, it’s time very well spent, and an important part of your wider job search strategy (find out more about how to structure a successful job search in our Ultimate Jobseeker Guide). Think of a cover letter as a brief overview of your skills and experience – a teaser that will coax a potential employer to read your CV in more detail.
As with any part of the job seeking process, there are certain guidelines that can be followed to make your cover letter a real asset to your application. While some roles might not require a formal cover letter, it’s generally worth sending one anyway, or using the body of your application email as a cover letter for all intents and purposes.
Cover Letter Layout
Contact Details and the Company Address
A cover letter is no different to a normal letter when it comes to layout – you should place your name, address, and additional contact details (like mobile number and email) in the top right corner. Beneath your contact details, on the left hand side of the page, you should include the company address, as well as the name of the person you are sending the letter to if you have it.
Make sure to add the date, and always start your letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. If you’ve got the name of the person you are sending your application to, then even better. It’s a good idea to open your cover letter strongly. Begin by mentioning what role you are applying for, and then explain why you’re the perfect match for the position. Back your statement up using your skills and experience.
Next, you want to show why you’re interested in the role. It can be good to include a few things that you like about the company you’re applying to here as well. Saying you were impressed with a recent project, or award they’ve won, shows you’re taken the time to read up about them, and that you genuinely want to work there.
Also explain what draws you to the position. It could be more of a challenge, an opportunity to expand your skill set, and so on. Don’t simply mention the salary or that you don’t like your current job.
Now’s the time to go into a little more detail about what you can bring to the role, and why. Check the job description and try to highlight some of your skills, achievements and experience that match key role requirements. If you’re applying for a sales job for example, then highlighting the fact you won salesperson of the month in your previous role is a good way to go. Don’t mention everything here however, the aim is to get the employer to read your well crafted CV in more detail.
This is where you can wrap up by mentioning how keen you are to be a part of the company or organisation one last time, as well as adding in a few more supporting skills gained from hobbies, if they’re relevant to the role. Make sure to end with a positive statement like: ‘I look forward to hearing from you.’, or something similar. ‘Kind regards’ or ‘Yours sincerely’ are good ways to sign your letter off.
Cover Letter Length
It’s important to remember that just like your CV, you’ll want to keep your cover letter fairly short and succinct. One page is enough for most roles. If you’re applying for certain specialist positions or writing a cover letter for an academic position, then you can opt for something a bit longer.
Finalising and Additional Application Steps
Before you send your application, make sure to read through it at least twice. If you can, give it to a friend or colleague and get them to check it too. Even better, pass it to someone you know in a managerial position to get their feedback as well.
Double check everything – you won’t get a second chance if a potential employer sees glaring spelling mistakes or an unreadable mess of grammar.
Now your cover letter is good to go, register with us for access to a huge choice of jobs, and send off that application!