How to write a strong cover letter?

how to write a cover letterAs with much of the recruitment and selection process, there is no absolute answer on what to put in a cover letter. There are however, some standard tips which I will discuss in this article. The purpose of a cover letter will depend on the employer as many ask you to specify why you feel you are suitable for the role in a cover letter. Some do not ask for one and others leave it optional. It can also give you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

Why you are looking for a new role:

A cover letter is the perfect place to add details that do not work in your CV. Prospective employers always query why you are looking to make a move or left your previous role. The cover letter is the place to answer that.

Why you are interested in that company and role:

Sell the prospective employer on why you are a great fit for their company – link your skills, experience to what they are looking for in the job spec. You could also highlight how you link to their corporate culture and company values. This would really make you stand out from the crowd. Try not to repeat yourself in the cover letter with what is in your CV – use the cover letter as an addition to your CV.

How you are directly suited for the role?

As said earlier, you want to show how you are directly suitable for the role. Most employers do not like to take risks. Think of it as fitting a square brick into a square hole – they want an obvious fit. It you look like a different shape to their requirements, they may overlook you for those that appear to be a perfect match. You can mirror their terminology in your CV and cover letter. For example, if they use high-energy words, do the same.

Your availability for interview or to start:

At the end of the cover letter, you can add your availability for interview and your notice period/availability to start. Try not to get too specific on interview times – I have seen people write between 1.30pm and 2.30pm Monday and Wednesday etc or a full list of their holidays coming up that year!

If you find it difficult to get off work for an interview, then wait until you get called and look to book annual leave or work around the prospective employer’s availability. Simply say in the cover letter – I am available for interview at your earliest convenience.

how to write a cover letterSome final points:

Many employers have large delays in the recruitment process so be prepared to wait for a response over a number of weeks. Some like to advertise for weeks and then review all applicants – an exercise the most sought after companies can afford to do.

The cover letter should not be longer than one page. Make it as succinct as possible. Double check all your spelling and grammar as most mistakes I see are in cover letters over CVs.

You can also add your cover letter as page 1 of your CV, as often employers print off the CV prior to interview or screening and forget to print off the cover letter. This avoids this happening. It also helps when online applications only permit you upload one document.

For online applications, just cut and past the cover letter into the box provided. You can omit the name and address and regards etc from at the bottom, if the word-count is limited.

how to write a cover letterBest of luck with your CV and cover letter writing.

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