How to write a cover letter - with example
May 16 2016 , 0 Comments
Your cover letter or covering note is an introductory message that accompanies your CV when applying for a job.
The purpose of the cover letter is simple… Persuade the reader to open your CV.
If you can learn how to write a cover letter properly, you will hugely increase your chances of landing job interviews.
This guide and annotated cover letter example below will show you everything you need to know about creating a winning cover note.
Always send in email format where possible
When applying for jobs online you usually have 2 choices...
1) Send a message via the job website’s messaging system
2) Send the recruiter an email directly
If you can find an email address for the recruiter, then I would always recommend sending an email directly because it gives you more control.
When you send a message through a job website, it will transfer into an email with basic formatting and an auto-generated headline, which will look like this when the recruiter receives it.
If you cannot find an email address for the recruiter on the job advert, then try searching LinkedIn or the company website to find the relevant contact.
You may not always be able to find an email address, but when you can – always send an email.
Make your subject line count
As you can see in the picture above, a bad subject line can kill your chances of actually having your email read in the first place.
Your subject line should stand out and give the recruiter a reason to open your email.
When recruiters look into their inbox, they are looking for one thing; a candidate who can do the job they are advertising – so give that to them in your subject line.
Your subject line should be a short summary of your experience that relates directly to the job you are applying for.
The following are good subject line examples;
KS2 Teacher with 5 years experience
Junior Graphic designer with 1st BA Hons Graphic Design
If your subject line shows that you have one or two of the most important requirements for the job, your email should get opened every time.
Address the recruiter by name
To get the relationship off on the right foot, you should try to address the recruiter by name if you can.
Often the recruiter’s details will appear on the job advert but sometimes you may have to check out the company website or do some digging around on LinkedIn.
If you really can’t find the name, then it’s not the end of the world – just start with a simple friendly opening like “Hi”
(If you applying to a more traditional organisation such as an academic post for a university, you may want to use something a bit more formal like “Dear sir or madam”)
Use a friendly yet professional tone
It’s important to sound professional when writing a cover letter but you also need to demonstrate your ability to communicate with other people and show some personality.
If your email is too casual and written in an over-familiar tone, then you will come across us un-professional.
But on the other hand, if your email is too formal and shows no signs of rapport building, you risk appearing as somebody who lacks social skills.
So when writing your cover letter, try to strike a nice balance of professionalism and friendliness.
Opening with a line such as “hope you’re well” is a nice way to breathe a bit of personality into your cover letter.
Ensure that your spelling and grammar is perfect throughout your cover letter because sloppy mistakes are a huge red flag for recruiters.
Keep it brief
Unless the job advert specifies otherwise; keep your cover letter short and sweet.
Recruiters and employers receive hundreds of job applications per week, so they don’t want to read a 2 page cover letter.
Depending on the role, around 2-4 sentences should be enough for the content of the cover letter.
You just need to write enough to persuade them to open your CV.
Show how your skills match the job
To ensure that recruiters open your CV, you simply need to explain how your skills and experience match the job requirements from the advert.
Scan the job advert to discover what the most important candidate abilities are, and show how your previous experience has prepared you to cover these.
In particular, look out for any requirements that are essential to the job.
Focus on what you have to offer at this stage and not what you want.
At this stage, your covering letter is simply a means of getting the recruiter to open your CV, so it’s too early to talk about salary demands etc. Save that for your initial conversation with the recruiter.
Include a professional signature
Round off your cover letter with a friendly salutation such as “Regards” and a smart signature which includes your name and most direct contact method (usually mobile phone for most people)
A professional signature will show recruiters that you understand business-email etiquette and ensure they have a means of contacting you – even if they can’t open your CV for any reason.