Updated: Jun 3, 2019
So this is a second part to my previous blog on How to Write a Perfect CV/Résumé in English that you can find HERE. You may be thinking that cover letters for job applications are overrated and irrelevant these days, however, they are still required by many organisations. Therefore, cover letters are still a great selling tool which will land you a telephone interview and it deserves your full attention.
Some recruiters receive 100s of job application a day so it is important to stand out from the crowed and what better tool than a perfectly written cover letter to attract their attention.
Cover letter is and should be a one page letter.
To start, it should have your name, your contact details, date and recruiters'/hiring managers' contact details (all in the top right hand corner of your letter). Make sure your personal details are sensible and emails professional. Never use emails such as 'hot babe/hot mama/crazy babe or similar'...as, let's be honest, they will not make you look very professional.
It needs to be drafted as a formal business letter (even if you are emailing it) and always PDF it as you never know what systems and computers they are using. You want them to open it and see it just like the way you saved it. PDF is a great tool to ensure formatting stays the same.
Your cover letter should have a maximum of 4 paragraphs.
In terms of how you should open your cover letter, make sure you use appropriate greetings. Try to find out a name of the hiring manager or recruiter, make it personal and prove that you are a worthy candidate for their time. If you know their name, always, I mean always ensure you have spelt it correctly, otherwise, your perfectly written cover letter is very likely to be disregarded.
Use 'Dear Sir or Madam' if you do not know their name, or 'Dear Hiring Manager/Dear Recruiting Manager' or even 'Dear Human Resources Manager'.
Try to avoid to whom it may concern as it is a little outdated now.
The first paragraph should say why you are writing to them, where you have found the role and that you have attached your CV and you can add a little extra that you did not write on your CV.
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to apply for the role of HR Manager, in response to the advert posted on Total Jobs platform. Please find my CV attached along side this cover letter. Having worked in the HR industry for several years now, I am very excited about the prospects of working with a company that has such a strong focus on their employees, their engagement and wellbeing.
In the second paragraph you can discuss your most relevant experience and talk about specific education and skills that make you a perfect candidate for the role you are applying for. You need to sell yourself here. Make sure you are not repeating what you already put in your CV and put in something extra that will add value but still emphase as to why you are the perfect candidate for the job.
Third paragraph is all about closure to your cover letter. Make sure you thank the employer for their time and consideration. You can use this paragraph to justify any major gaps in your employment, sum up your qualifications and express an interest in continuing to the next stage of the recruitment process. You can also confirm your availability and call back time for any interviews.
Before you sign off, you should try to promise more information. For example, I would love to show you how I increased employee productivity and engagement by 25%, just make sure you can explain and follow up any examples in a face to face interview.
You should end your cover letter with a formal closing such as
Note: capitalise only the first word, not the second word.
You should add your full name again, your email and phone number. Yes, you are already repeating yourself here as you provided this information in the top right hand corner of your letter, however, it is ok to remind them again and save a recruiter's time. They will appreciate this.
COVER LETTER GRAMMAR
1. Avoid contractions where necessary. For example,
use I am NOT I'm
use I will NOT I'll
use do not NOT don't
use cannot NOT can't
I have never been a fan of contractions and you will never see me use them in my blogs or my emails. I personally find them too informal to be used in a professional/business cover letter. Looking for a job is a serious business and should be approached from a professional perspective.
2. Use active voice not passive voice. For example,
Passive voice - "a promotion to head a department was awarded to me after only one year" | Quick learning was recognised as one of my strengths
Active voice - "After only one year, I earned a promotion to a head of department" | I am a quick learner
3. Use full sentences, never bullet points. Bullet points are for your CV.
4. Vocabulary should be formal.
Never use any slangs and use key words from a relevant job advert. You should also use powerful verbs and adjectives. For example, instead of get you could use receive. Please see below more examples.
Get -> receive
Give -> provide
Help -> assist
Answer -> reply
Choose -> select
Talk about -> discuss
To make sure -> ensure
To tell -> to inform
Before you send it, you need to check that everything is there, such as your CV and/or any other documents you may have referred to in your cover letter/application form. Make sure it is proof read, that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes.
If you follow my steps, you should have a clear and concise cover letter that will ensure you stand out from the crowed.
I hope this blog helps you, more to follow around this topic. I also offer a range of Upgrade Yourself | Personal Development 1:1 services/programs one of which is to review and draft your CV together and start preparing you for upcoming interviews. You can find out more HERE.
If you have any questions, please sign up as a member/subscribe to my website below and/or send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Instagram at @yourself.focus, Facebook at @focusyourself and Twitter @YourselfFocus
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