When you’re sending your CV to a job application or to a hiring manager, you need to make sure that you send a properly written cover letter to accompany your CV. However, how do you write a cover letter that will add some value to your job application?
The first point is to send your cover letter in the body of your email and not as an attachment. Nobody is going to read your cover letter if it’s attached to your email. If I am opening a document, I will be opening your CV, meaning your cover letter is wasted. If your cover letter is in the body of your email, it’s likely I will at least skim read it and hiring managers are likely to read it (or at least skim read it) as well. This gives you the best possible chance to impress from the outset.
Writing Your Cover Letter
In this section we’re not going to go into detail on the structure of writing your cover letter but try to give you some pointers to get you going in the right direction.Writing a great cover letter will also help you to stand out from the crowd. Very few candidates send a cover letter and even fewer will tailor it to a specific person or job.
Often, when I receive a resume, the cover letter will simply start with the words, “to whom it may concern” even though my name is in my email address. This is an instant sign the cover letter and resume are most likely going to be standard and probably I am one of the many email addresses on the mass email that has been sent out.
If I am busy it’s an instant delete. It simply goes in my special hiding place on my computer never to be found again.
Cover Letter Tips
Today, I had a real think about how you could write a great cover letter that would be both professional and make you stand out from the crowd. The most important advice I can give you when writing your cover letter is not to make it too long. If you’re writing a great cover letter, I would want more than a couple of lines, but I am not going read a two-page letter. Personally, a few paragraphs are about the right length for your cover letter.
Don’t Use Templates That You Found on Google
Usually when a candidate writes their cover letter, they open google.com, search for “writing good cover letters” and take the first template that is available. We’ve all seen and used these templates in the past and because they’re so basic, they’re easy to spot. Writing a great cover letter does not need a template as really, you’re only introducing yourself to a recruiter or hiring manager and briefly explaining your knowledge, achievements, and why you’re looking for a new career.
Don’t Repeat What’s on Your Resume?
If a candidate has not used a template they have found on google, they will simply repeat pretty much exactly what they are going to then say in their resume.The main problem with writing in your cover letter about your work experience is that I now know what you do and therefore I am likely to skip over your career history or the vast majority of it. If there are any important words featured, such as any achievements or specific areas of your knowledge, I am going to miss these and your resume will be in the bin.
Make it Short!
No one is going to read a two-page cover letter. Honestly, the shorter your cover letter is the better. My recommendation is that it should not be more than half a page and make sure there is no waffle. We want to see hard facts that are straight to the point.
Send it in the Body of Your Email!
If you are emailing your cover letter to a company, make sure that you include your cover letter within the body of the email and not as a separate attachment. If you send your resume to me with your cover letter as an attachment, there is a 99% chance I will not even look at it. If your cover letter is sent within the body of the email, most likely I will take a brief look at it.
Who to Address?
You need to do your very best to get away from using “To who it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”. If you are replying to an advert on the internet usually there will be a name and you need to use this. If no name is given, try and find it. Use tools such as LinkedIn or Facebook to find the HR Manager or the Head of the Department that you are applying for and send it to them directly. Dear Sir or To who it may concern usually means mass emails or I could not be bothered.
What Software to Use?
Always Send a PDF Version. I have mentioned previously that I hate it when candidates send me there resume in excel, however, not everyone can open all the different writing programs that exist, but almost everyone can open a PDF. If you send your resume to a recruitment company, send a word version as well.
Never Mention these Words
My name is, or I am applying for… Your name is at the top of your resume and in your email.
Check and Re-Check your Spelling and Contact Details
Making spelling or grammar mistakes these days makes you look very silly. Nearly all the programs I use have a spell checker. Use it!!
Make sure you check both your email and telephone numbers as you can easily make a mistake. Every week someone sends me their cover letter with a telephone number that does not work.