A COVER LETTER is often the first thing an employer will look at when reviewing a job candidate. As everyone knows first impressions do count and while a good cover letter will not guarantee you get the job, a bad cover letter can certainly prevent you from getting one. For that reason it is important that you prepare a good cover letter to accompany your CV. Many job seekers are apprehensive about writing a cover letter but it doesn’t need to be such a daunting task.
How to draft your Cover Letter
The structure of the cover letter should be clear and easy to read. Insert your name, address, email and phone number at the top right hand side of the page. Place the employer’s details below that on the left hand side of the page. Enter the date immediately below the employer’s details on the left hand side. Next you should mention the job you are applying for. On a separate line write ‘Re:’ followed by the job title and the job reference number, if there is one. In the opening paragraph introduce yourself and clearly explain the opportunity you are interested in. The middle paragraph will briefly outline why you are a good candidate for the job. This will only involve mentioning two or three of your most impressive and relevant achievements and relating them to the position you are applying for. This could involve your academic achievements, a particular work project, skills you developed in a previous job, or even a personal achievement that emphasises a useful trait or characteristic. It can be helpful to include some of the key words used in the job description in this section of the cover letter as it will help make the connection in the employer’s mind between you and the job. In the closing paragraph restate your interest in the position, mention how much you believe you would excel in the role, and highlight your contact details again. Finish by saying how you look forward to hearing from them, thank them and sign off with ‘Yours Sincerely’ followed by your full name.
The purpose of a cover letter is to state your interest in the job, to express your desire to work for the company and to highlight the key skills/qualities that make you the ideal candidate for the job. A good cover letter will be short and to the point. Three to five short paragraphs should suffice and it should always be less than one page long. Each cover letter should be tailored specifically for each job application, highlighting your most relevant accomplishments for each opportunity. It is also important to refrain from restating everything from your CV in your cover letter. The cover letter should merely emphasise the most important elements of your CV and relate them to the position advertised. You need to ask yourself, what skills and experience do I possess that will be most useful in the job I am applying for? The answer to that question will determine the content of your cover letter.
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