If you are paying someone to promote you, your skills, attributes and achievements, how would you want them to promote you? This is a good way to start considering the covering letter that you send out with your CV. It has to clearly introduce you, explain why you are the one, their suitable candidate, and make that all important link between your CV and the advertised position.
First, you’d expect whoever is promoting you to dress smartly, wouldn’t you? So for a start, your letter needs to look professional, typed or printed in a simple font on good quality white paper. If you’re not sure what to do with the layout, then, ask somebody else to do it for you. Alternatively, word processing programs usually have letter templates which you can use.
Of course, just as you can get a well-dressed person who can’t do promote you properly, the effectiveness of your letter will depend on its content. Here are some golden rules that will hopefully steer you towards achieving great results.
1. Always include your own contact details, the name and address of the person you’re writing to, the date and the job reference number – if there is any. Always try to address your letter to somebody by name. You can always phone and check who this should be. Present their name properly, as well as their title. If you can’t obtain a name, address your letter “Dear Sir or Madam”.
2. In the first paragraph, mention the information that you’re enclosing, whether this is an application form or your CV. This will make you appear efficient and organised.
3. In paragraphs two and three, focus on the job itself. You need to mention vital requirements of the job description and then match them to the skills, experience and personal qualities you’re offering. Summarise at this point. Remember that more details are provided in your CV. A useful technique to convey your understanding of the vacancy is to use key phrases from the job description. But don’t go over the top with them, they must still sound like your own thoughts and words.
4. It is a good idea to mention your personal qualities at this point. Don’t let modesty prevent you from blowing your own trumpet, mention your strengths and attributes. Are you highly motivated? Motivated by challenges? Organised? A good communicator? Happiest when working with the public? This is when you can give the employer an insight into your personality and characteristics as an employee.
5. Sell yourself! Always make positive statements. Never apologise for lack of experience, as you will only draw attention to it.
6. Finally, close the letter, saying you are available for interview and that you look forward to hearing from them. If you know the person’s name, sign ‘Yours sincerely’. If you don’t, use ‘Yours faithfully’. Type your name and sign it as well.
Tip: Never use the same letter for different applications. Rewrite it each time, tailoring it to the job in question.
And that’s all there is to know about a cover letter that gets you noticed! Once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult.