Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

A good (or not so good) cover letter can make or break your job search. Here’s ten of our top tips to writing a great cover letter to kick start your career!

Open with a ‘bang’

Open your letter with a succinct opening paragraph that summarises why you are applying for this particular role, to capture the employer’s initial attention!

Cut out the excess.

The worst thing to do on a cover letter is to waffle a load of nonsense and useless information that a potential employer is likely to skip over in search of the good bits! Write of list of essential points that you want to include and make this the ‘skeleton’ of your cover letter.

Highlight your best bits.

Write your cover letter so that your strengths and achievements are highlighted, so that it makes the right first impression to its reader.

A Cover Letter is different to your CV!

The idea of a CV is to provide a relatively detailed overview of your education, qualifications and previous employments. Although you might tailor your CV to feature skills that you think are beneficial to a certain role, a CV is always generic, and non-specific. A cover letter should be a concise, brief overview of why your specific skills and experiences match up to the requirements of one specific job role, so ensure to make that the focus of your cover letter!

Express your career aims.

Unlike a CV, the format of a cover letter allows you to include what you are aiming for within your job seeking or career prospects. Use this to tell an employer exactly why you want this role, and why you want to work for the company!

Match your skills to the job description.

Use your cover letter to match you strengths, qualifications and skills to the requirements of the job description for the role you are applying for. If a role asks for applicants with excellent customer service, dedicate a few sentences of your letter to how your previous experiences utilised your customer service skills or how a particular course helped you to improve those skills!

Include your personality – in moderation.

Employers could have read hundreds of cover letters in their time, with many looking like carbon copies of the last. Writing to include your personality, or allowing your personality to influence your writing style may help to distinguish your cover letter from the rest, and sell you as a person rather than just a set of skills. However, this should be implemented in moderation, and elements of ‘humour’ should be kept to a bare minimum!

Tailor your letter to the style of the company.

It might be a good idea to tailor the writing style of your cover letter to the type of company you are applying to. This will involve a little research about the company – if it comes across as a relaxed and person-centred business, it may be okay to write in a more casual manner, if it appears to be an extremely professional business, let your writing reflect that.

Keep it simple.

No fancy fonts, images or page borders will get you this job. It’s a little harder than that! Stick to a simple and professional looking cover letter which won’t find the employer throwing your letter straight in the bin upon first glance. I good rule of thumb is to stick to simple, basic fonts such as Arial, Tahoma or Calibri, at font size 12 with 1.5 line spacing. These settings will ensure a clean looking application!

These rules apply whether it’s online or offline!

More often in this current market, jobseekers are submitting CVs and cover letters online. Many jobseekers will fall into one of many traps, such as underestimating how professional a cover letter must appear, whether it’s a cover letter sent by email, by post or using an online form. Maintain your professional image for any application!