Cover letter writing tips | Cover letter writing basic tips

A cover letter is a separate document that is sent with your CV or your application form. It can make the difference between being successful in your job search or not. Even if you are emailing your CV, it is often best to send your cover letter as a separate document rather than as part of the email.

Cover letters are generally not read during the initial candidate selection process, but usually read when the candidates have been short listed.

Cover letters provide you with a distinct opportunity to highlight why you are right for the job. Always include a cover letter even if the job advertisement does not ask for one. The cover letter will allow you with room to guide the interview process by providing the interviewer with early pointers which you should be happy to talk about.

Your cover letter should not be a copy of your CV but should be a chance to bring your CV to life, helping to explain in more detail your enthusiasm for the role and why you are suitable.

A cover letter is also a way of showing your writing and reporting skills.

Lazy approach

Your cover letter should be customised per employer. However, if you are sending a lot of CVs, this task could prove impossible.

The lazy approach to cover letters is to produce a very generic cover letter which can be used over and over again without having to make considerable changes. This has the benefit of being quick and easy which will help if you are applying for many jobs at one time. It will also allow you to use facilities such as mail-merge to target lots of companies at one time.

Try instead to have a cover letter per industry or per area.

Hard working approach

This approach will take much more time but is likely to yield a much greater success rate. This involves writing each cover letter specifically for each job. As such you will be able to tailor the letter to highlight the skills and experience you have that will be most appropriate for the role. You will also be able to mention more details about the company which show that you already have an awareness of the role and the company that you would be working for.

This method is time consuming, however, if you really want the position then it will be worth spending the extra time to help ensure that you get an interview.

Other tips

It is advisable to call the company before you send them your resume, as unsolicited mail is frequently discarded upon receipt. When you make the phone call, try and find out the exact name and job title of the interviewing officer that should be included on the cover letter. Try and find out what the company is looking for in an employee so you can highlight these factors in your cover letter and your CV.

The main advantage of making this initial phone call is that you can make a reference to it in your cover letter, showing your communication skills and reminding the employer as to whom you are.


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