What’s the purpose of a cover letter?
A cover letter is a letter styled document you send with your CV (usually as the front cover). You can use your cover letter to highlight your appropriate skills, experience, and qualifications relevant to the job you are applying for and should explain why you’re different than the other applicants. You are showcasing your expertise, but it also showing your potential employer how well you communicate.
When are cover letters necessary?
There are five very specific situations that will always require a cover letter:
- You’re applying directly to a specific person in the company.
- Someone has referred you for the position that you can mention in your cover letter.
- It’s requested in the job application.
- The employer asks for it.
- It has a big impact at small companies. Smaller companies often hire fewer people at a time, so their hiring managers will likely take the time to look for and read a cover letter to better understand each candidate.
How to structure your Cover Letter
Lay it out as if you are writing letter and break it up into paragraphs, like so:
- What job are you applying for?
- Relevant skills – ensure you are including the skills and attributes they are asking for in the job description.
- Explain why you’d be a good fit for the role. What makes you different from other candidates, do you have any special achievements?
- Try to end with ‘I look forward to hearing from you’, be confident in what you write and end the cover letter as per who you are addressing it to e.g. if addressing to a specific person use ‘your sincerely’ in other situations use ‘your faithfully’
- Keep it short, we recommend no more than 250 words
- Remember you don’t have to start from scratch each time, use the same draft but change the necessary information. (If you are doing this though ensure you don’t make it seem like it’s a cookie-cutter cover letter that you’re sending to the other 20 companies that you’re applying to).
- Proofread each cover letter before submitting it or sending it to potential employers! You don’t want to be sending the perfect cover letter but forgetting to change the employers name.