A well written covering letter is your opportunity to ‘sell yourself’ to a potential employer. While a CV highlights your skills and experiences, a cover letter offers you the chance to demonstrate your aptitudes and personality, encouraging them to consider you for the job on offer.
In research carried out by CV Writers, a specialist CV writing firm, 30% of recruiters said they will not even read a CV unless the covering letter impresses them first. Neville Rose, Director at CV Writers confirms “the message is clear, a covering letter still plays a vital role in the application process”. So, don’t underestimate the importance the covering letter.
A few things to remember when compiling your cover letter:
Don’t be generic. This is your chance to show your potential employer that you understand the nature of the business and the position you are applying for. Your cover letter should be tailored for each role you apply for, and should reference the advert you are replying to and what prompted you to do so.
Explain why. Use this section to let the employer know why you want to work for them, put emphasis on why you are the right person for their job, not just any job. Call attention to key areas on your CV; let them know what you have to offer them. Refer to the job advert you are replying to, show them that you have read it and understand what and who they are looking for.
Keep it short. Your covering letter should be no more than a side of A4, so be concise. It might be tempting to write out all your experiences, qualifications and skills, but keep to the relevant ones. Play up your most valuable skills, the ones that the position calls for.
Presentation is key. It is important to make sure that your letter is addressed to the correct person, using their correct job title and spelling of their name. When referring to the position you are applying for use the correct job title and, if there is one, the reference number. This is a letter, so it should be structured as such with a beginning, middle and end. Use correct grammar and spell check, and it never hurts to have someone else look over your letter to pick up on anything you might have missed.
Don’t forget to let them know your intensions; that you would be grateful to be considered for the position and have the opportunity to have an interview. Include your telephone number, so if they happen to lose your CV, they can still contact you.
And before you send it, spell check it again. Just in case.