A cover letter is a single-page letter that you must include with your CV for a new job application, unless the job advertisement/recruiter clearly says not to.
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
When you start writing your cover letter, you should remember to include and elaborate the following:
- Introduce yourself like you would in your Interview.
- Mention the job (or kind of job) you’re applying for (or looking for).
- Show that your skills and experience match the skills and experience required to do the specific job.
- Encourage the reader to read your resume.
- Always finish your cover letter with a call to action (for example, asking for an interview or a meeting).
How long should your cover letter be?
Keep it short and sweet. Your cover letter is meant to be a summary of your resume, so don’t write more than one page.
Matching your cover letter to the job.
Always use a different cover letter for each job application you apply for. Your cover letter needs to show that you know and understand what the job involves, and what the employer is looking for.
By doing this, be specific about your skills and qualities. You also need to show how they match the needs of the job or the organization.
Here are 3 simple steps and ways to make your cover letter as specific as possible:
1. Find out who to address your cover letter to:
Try not to address your letter ‘To whom it may concern’. Find out the name of the person who will read your application. This might take a little effort, but it’s worth it.
If you found the job in an advertisement, it will probably name a person to send the application to. If it doesn’t, call the employer or advertiser and ask who to send the application to. Telephone is best, but email them if you can’t find a contact phone number.
If you find out the person’s name, don’t use their first name. Use either ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ and their last name instead.
2. Find out more about the job.
When you are finding out who to address your application/cover letter to, you could also try to contact that person so you can ask some questions. This can help you match your cover letter (and resume) to the job, and it will also show them you are interested in the job.
When finding out about the job application, you can ask the following questions:
- Does the job involve working as part of a team or individual?
- Who would I be reporting to if I got the job?
- Can you tell me more about the kind of person you’re looking for to be the best fit to the company?
- Is there a position description I can look at? (Only ask this if the job advertisement doesn’t mention a position description).
Note down all your answers to these questions as they can be used in your cover letter.
3. Find out more about the company.
Find out more about the company so you can tailor your cover letter for the job. Here are some tips:
- If you know the name of the company, do some research online to get some background on what they do.
- If the company name isn’t in the advertisement, call the recruitment agency or advertiser and ask who the employer is, and explain to them that you want to do some research on them so that you can be prepared in the interview.