When applying for a job, you will soon realize that creating a CV is the easiest part of the process. The next step, dreaded by many, is writing the cover letter. Unfortunately the two go hand in hand and the one cannot be sent through without the other. They both serve an equally important purpose but they also complement each other in a way that creates a good first impression of the job applicant – you. A good understanding of a cover letter will lead to the applicant writing a good cover letter.
A cover letter is sent in with a CV in order for you to express what you have not mentioned in your CV and to highlight important aspects of your achievements. It addresses some of your winning qualities and serves as a letter of motivation as well. When the employer reads your cover letter (and they do!) they are looking for the best candidate. The cover letter is used in order to make sure that the applicant stands out above the rest.
Many people are anxious about the cover letter because, let’s face it, not everyone is born William Shakespeare. There are, however, some easy tips to remember when writing a cover letter.
A good introduction is the key to excellent writing. When you write your cover letter, it is important that you open with something that the employer is going to remember. A good way to start would be to introduce yourself by highlighting key aspects of your excellent work ethic and by emphasizing how passionate you are about the job that you are applying for. You don’t have to start with your name; they already know who you are because they have your CV on hand.
It is also important that you write a fresh cover letter for each job that you apply for even if it is the same position. The last thing you want to be is generic when you are competing against other applicants for the job. You can reuse the same basic template and structure but try to appeal to the company’s values and beliefs. You will have to do some research for this in order to include it in your letter. This will show that you don’t only care about the job but about your working environment as well.
The Main Event a.k.a The Body
The body of your cover letter is where you will include the most important information and this is what the employer is going to focus on. Avoid repeating what has already been said in your CV. Only highlight the most important features of your experience and your education. A good place to start here is to see what type of experience the position requires and mentioning that you meet those standards. If you don’t have the necessary experience in the field then you can focus on the skills that you have picked up along the way.
Employers also want to know what you will be able to do for the company. After reading your CV, managers will know what your skills are. What they really want to know is what exactly you will be contributing when you are employed. Statistics are always a winner when it comes to making an impact. If you have achieved something at your previous job and it can be measured in numbers, mention it in your CV. For example, if you are an educator, you can mention the percentage of students that have passed your classes with distinctions. If you dealt more with people than figures, you can include testimonials from former employers.
Find the Right Tone
You cannot write in the same tone for every job that you apply for. Some companies are more conservative which means that the cover letter should have a more serious and formal tone, whilst other companies pride themselves on a modern approach and prefer an informal tone. Spend some time looking at the company’s website and the type of language you use on there. You can adapt your writing to theirs and show that you understanding the environment they are trying to create.
It is easy to be overly formal when writing a cover letter but this just creates the impression that you are robotic and unenthusiastic. It would be a good idea for you to put some of your own personality into your writing style. You can, for instance, say that you are excited at the prospect of a new job or a new working environment. It has to be said, however, that too much enthusiasm can also destroy the impact that you are trying to make. Try not to use too many adverbs and adjectives and you will be able to find the right balance.
The end of your cover letter is just as important as the body because this is where you conclude who you are and the skills that you are trying to emphasize. Employers prefer cover letters that are about 250 words long so keep it short and sweet but do not treat it like a throwaway paragraph. It might be tempting to just write something like, “I look forward to meeting you’, but rather expand on those words. Repeat why you are passionate about the position and what it would mean to you if you had the chance to work in such an environment. You can also add any other important details like the fact that you are willing to relocate for the job.
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There should not even be a doubt about this. It is imperative that you edit your cover letter and that you fix any spelling mistakes that might arise. Bad spelling and bad grammar often creates a bad first impression. Computers basically do it for you, but do not rely on spell checks. Take two minutes and read through it again.
Writing a cover letter does not have to be as scary as it looks. When you have the right tools, it is actually quite easy!