Why should you write a cover letter?

Nowadays, cover letters are a standard requirement of most job applications, however even if you do not strictly need to write one, you probably still should.

Writing a positive cover letter, that demonstrates your interest in the role, and highlights the ways your skills, experience and characteristics make you the ‘best fit’, will set you apart from the crowd.

What should you include in your cover letter?

Writing a cover letter can be overwhelming, but once you know what you need to incorporate, it can be easier than you think to get started.

Your cover letter should look like a formal business letter and include:

  • Today’s date.
  • The employer’s name and address, remembering that cover letters should be addressed to a specific person if possible, rather than “To whom it may concern” or similar.
  • How you heard about the job, and why you are interested in the role.
  • A brief outline of your key skills and experience, with examples showing how they match the ones required for the position.
  • A request for consideration (usually an interview).
  • An expression of appreciation for taking the time to read the letter, such as “Thank you for taking the time to consider my application”.

How long should my cover letter be?

Your cover letter shouldn’t be too long, usually just a page is sufficient. You can make the most of the little space that you have by ensuring that everything is relevant and the language is simple.

Don’t forget to use first-person and an active-voice to draw attention to positive attributes and achievements, such as “I achieved’, “I successfully completed” etc.

Writing a cover letter to match the job

One of the trickiest and time consuming parts of looking for a job, can be writing a different cover letter for each position you are applying for. However, it is true that each cover letter should be different, since it needs to match your skills, to the specific ones that the employer is seeking.

In your cover letter, you should be demonstrating to the employer that you can meet their needs, by using concrete examples from your previous experience.

Facts and figures are particularly useful as they’ll jump out at prospective employers, such as “I achieved a rate of 70% sales from all approaches; 10% above the company average.''

Another good way to make sure that your cover letter matches the role is to incorporate phrases and words from the actual job description.

Formatting and layout

Your cover letter should look like a standard formal letter with the applicant’s details in the top right-hand corner of the page, the date below this on the left-hand side and the employer’s details underneath the date.

It should be typed and printed on white paper, on no more than one A4 page with font no smaller than 10 point so that it’s easy to read.

Hints and tips for writing cover letters

  • Remember to proofread your letter to check that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes and, if possible, ask a friend or family member to check it as well.
  • Always check that you haven’t left the name of the last employer you contacted in the letter – it’s a more common mistake than you might think.
  • Keep a copy of the cover letter so that you can review what you wrote before an interview.

Key points to remember about writing cover letters

  • A cover letter can accompany your resume or job application. It’s an opportunity to show the employer how you can meet their needs.
  • Match your cover letter to the job description, highlighting the skills and experience that make you perfect for the job and using examples where possible.
  • Make your cover letter easy to read and double-check it for typos and other mistakes before submitting.
  • Job applications can be accompanied by a cover letter that shows your interest in the role and the ways in which your skills and experience make you the ‘best fit’ for the job. It’s a great opportunity to make your application stand out from the crowd!

How to write a resume or CV

Your resume, otherwise known as your CV or Curriculum Vitae, is the document that compiles all the skills and experience relevant to your work history, together. It is the document that every potential employer will use to assess your suitability for an interview, so it’s important to make sure it’s as good as it can be.

There are some things that every resume should incorporate, including:

  • Your contact details: name, address, phone number and email address.
  • A short introduction: including two or three sentences on who you are and what you have to offer the organisation.
  • Your education: including any details of current training or study.
  • Your work history: starting with the most recent position and working backwards, describing what you did there. Highlight your most important career achievements and skills.

Hints and tips for writing a resume or CV

  • Remember to proofread your letter to check there are no spelling or grammar mistakes and, if possible, ask a friend or family member to check it as well.
  • Always check that you haven’t left the name of the last employer you contacted in the letter. It’s a more common mistake than you might think.
  • Keep a copy of the cover letter so that you can review what you wrote before an interview.

Looking for more help with your resume and cover letter?

Head into your local Employment Plus office today for more information.