The purpose of a cover letter is to complement your job application. While your CV or application form may be pages long and has everything from experience to education, your cover letter should sum up why all that makes you perfect for the job. You’re essentially giving a ‘preview’ of what the hiring manager or recruiter can expect to find within, like the blurb of a book!
While downloading a cover letter template can be very tempting when you’re applying for several positions during your job search, it is important to remember that like your CV or application form, it must be tailored to the company and role you’re applying for. While it can be helpful to get some information down using a template, take the time to craft a custom cover letter every time you apply, because you’ll have a different reason or set of skills that make you right for each separate company and getting that across is crucial to creating an effective cover letter and landing that interview.
Remember, your cover letter is a teaser, not the full production. It’s highlighting key information that will encourage the recruiter to read on and review your full CV or application.
However you choose to send your job application, whether it’s through a job website, the company’s website itself or even old fashioned post, it’s important to include a contact section to the hiring manager knows who you are and how to contact you to offer the interview!
How you greet the reader of your cover letter could be what makes or breaks your chance of getting this job. It’s important to remain professional and choose the right salutation for the situation. Have you exchanged conversation with this person before, over email or maybe at a networking event? Then address it directly to them in a professional manner, e.g. ‘Dear Mr Gregory’ or if you you’re on first name terms with them, it’s fine to say, ‘Dear Marie’. If you do not know who you are addressing, you may want to offer ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’ if you’re emailing your cover letter and know the time of day it will be received. If you’re sending it by post, it’s best to opt for ‘To whom it may concern’.
At this point, you’re now in to the main section of the letter. This is where you should start to tell the hiring manager why you want to work for their company and what about your experience and skills make you the best candidate for the role. Like with a tailored CV, you should always be referring back to the job specification and directly referencing the skills and experience that they have detailed in the required/desired sections. This way they can easily see why you’re a great fit right from the start.
Close the cover letter with a professional sign off such as ‘Kind regards’ or ‘Best wishes’ and depending on whether you are sending an email or a printed letter, you will want to consider your signature. If electronic, then a professional email signature with contact details is a great way to finish, where as if you’re printing and posting the letter then sign in the traditional way with a hand-written signature.