A Cover Letter serves a purpose far beyond introducing you to a prospective employer, it puts your CV in context. A lot of attention is paid to compiling a meticulous CV and rightfully so, however, a CV in itself is limited in its ability to articulate your value proposition. Essentially, a great Cover Letter tells a story of how you are the candidate of choice and a CV provides the evidence thereof. A Cover Letter also summarises your experience and expertise on a single page. More importantly, it is a fantastic opportunity for you to match your skills to the position you are applying for and showcase your suitability.
Benefits of a Cover Letter
A great cover will:
- Let the potential employer get a glimpse of what they will gain by inviting you for an interview.
- Set you ahead of candidates applying with only a CV.
- Clarify why you are the ideal candidate for the position advertised by highlighting skills you possess that are stated as a requirement on the job spec.
- Express your sincere interest in the role and add a personal/human touch as CVs can be very technical.
So how do you put together a superb Cover Letter?
Avoid writing a generic letter as this defeats the purpose of a Cover Letter. When writing, keep the end in mind, what idea do you want the reader to have about you, what message are you trying to articulate?
Where possible, address the letter to the intended recipient (i.e. Hiring Manager Company X or Mrs. Linda Smith, Human Resources, Company C).
There are tons of Cover Letter samples on the internet, resist the temptation to copy and paste. Recruiters and hiring managers see dozens of Cover Letters, and it may discredit you if the reader of your Cover Letter is familiar with the content you are sampling. Also, you don’t want to submit the same Cover Letter as another applicant. Just go through the sample letters for guidance if you are struggling to come up with the right content, but keep your letter authentic.
State your interest in the hiring company
Speak to what in particular about the role and company piqued your interest. Use this opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the position and the organisation. This can only work in your favour as it will show you made an effort and that you are not just applying for the sake of applying.
Your CV will address your abilities in detail so focus on the skills that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. Provide a brief professional background and touch on relevant education and training. In a new paragraph, go into your core competencies and match your skills to the role.
Achievements, achievements, achievements!
Everything you say means so much more if you can back it up. Highlight the achievements most relevant to the position you are applying for. Everything you promise to deliver in a new role is far more believable if you can show that you have already achieved similar results in the past.
In closing, emphasise your interest in the role and again highlight your suitability based on your skills and experience. Mention what you will bring to the team if appointed and let the reader see what an incredible candidate they stand to gain if you are selected.
Keep it brief
Remember a Cover Letter does not replace your CV and should never be more than a page long. Three-quarters of a page is the ideal length.
Read over your Cover Letter out loud several times and look out for spelling and grammatical errors. Even the slightest mistake could make the reader lose interest in you as a potential contender for the role. Before sending out your newly written Cover Letter, ask a friend or trusted colleague to read through it, as a fresh pair of eyes could pick up any errors you may have missed.
Most job adverts do not request a Cover Letter submission and by default, jobseekers assume a CV alone will suffice, perhaps, but a cover letter provides an added advantage. Forbes published a very helpful article titled a Formula For Writing An Attention-Grabbing Cover Letter, it has tips on mistakes to avoid and how to grab the reader with a great opening line.
I recommend consulting with a professional CV writer to review your CV and cover letter and give you personal recommendations on how to improve it.