Writing a stand out cover letter

In today's electronic age it is easy to forget the basic courtesies of applying for a job. Emailed applications should be treated no differently to postal applications and the importance of writing cover letters for resumes should never be under-estimated.

You should think of your cover letter as the preview trailer to the main feature (that is your CV) and its main function is to get your resume read. It is your chance to make personal contact with the hiring manager and provide a link between yourself and the position for which you are applying.

Are you wondering what should be in your next cover letter? Use our checklist below with top tips on how to write your next one:

  • Structure the cover letter into four parts. The opening paragraph should tell the employer who you are and what you want; the second paragraph outlines what you have to offer and emphasises any specific relevant experience or skills; the third paragraph explains to the employer why you would be of value and the closing paragraph should state clearly when you are available for interview.
  • Mention three points that highlight your specific expertise in the area relevant to the job. Then mention three points explaining how your achievements show that you can add value to the company.
  • Always tailor the letter to the job for which you are applying. A covering letter to a bank is unlikely to be the same as one to a media production company where you may have more scope for creativity.
  • Avoid making the cover letter too long. Four short paragraphs should be sufficient for you to make your point succinctly.
  • Make sure all your contact details are available and if you are due to go away on holiday make sure you include that too.
  • Try to avoid flowery language and too much use of the word I, especially at the beginning of paragraphs.
  • Focus on the company's requirements rather than your own.
  • Keep it concise - if you elaborate too much you lose the effect. The content needs to grab the reader’s attention quickly and be distinguishable from other applications. 
  • Always write to a named individual, and again check and double check the spelling.

Lastly, before you send off your cover letter, be sure to check grammar and spelling meticulously. Sloppy spelling could get your application straight onto the reject pile!

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