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Alongside your CV, your cover letter is incredibly important in creating a great first impression and helping you successfully move to the next stage in the application process. Our tips below will help ensure your cover letter not only provides a professional introduction but helps to further communicate why you're the perfect fit your your next career move.
|TOP TIP #1: ALWAYS SEND ONE!|
One of the biggest cover letter mistakes is simply failing to include one at all! Some advertised positions may suggest that more concise information can be provided but all applications should still contain a letter as part of the process. At best, the cover letter can be seen in equal weighting to your CV and provide the chance to really highlight your suitability in detail. However, even as more of a formality, the cover letter still plays an important role in introducing yourself properly and ensuring your contact details are always close by for the company or recruiter.
|TOP TIP #2: DO YOUR HOMEWORK|
Before beginning to write your cover letter, you will need to ensure you find out as much information as possible about the role. By uncovering the following, you will give yourself the best chance to write a cover letter that successfully ticks all the points they're looking for.
|Gain the best possible understanding of what the company does.|
|What are the exact skills required in the job description?|
|Does the company have a definable culture? What adjectives would you use to describe it?|
|Where does the company sit in its market in relation to its competitors?|
|Who is their key target market?|
|Is the company moving through transitional period? Does it have big ambitions?|
|Who will be receiving your cover letter?|
If the cover letter is going to a recruitment consultancy then try to ascertain which specific consultant will be responsible for that particular role.
|TOP TIP #3: FOLLOW A PROFESSIONAL STRUCTURE|
Conventions around layout and structure are rooted in hard-copy letter formats. However, even in the digital age, it remains best practice to adopt a formal approach.
|Begin with your address and essential contact details. (This should be right-aligned).|
|If applying to a company directly, include their address next.|
|Make sure you include any reference number or code for the job.|
|Outline why you're writing the letter. Reference the position and your accompanying CV.|
|Communicate your suitability for the role.|
|Highlight the relevance of the extra information you found out about the company and role where possible.|
|State your availability and your desire to secure an interview.|
|Lastly, sign off the letter professionally. If your letter is addressed to a generic title such as Sir or Madam, it is conventional to use 'yours faithfully'. However, if you have addressed the letter to a specific individual, then 'yours sincerely' can be used.|
|TOP TIP #4: DON'T DUPLICATE YOUR CV|
Your CV and cover letter should stand together as two complimentary, but separate documents. Try not to repeat too much of the information you've provided on your CV. It's much more effective to highlight a few select areas of you CV that have the most relevance to the specific role you're applying for. Use the cover letter to expand on these key areas of experience and reinforce their compatibility.
|TOP TIP #5: TRY NOT TO WAFFLE|
All the well-researched details you want to include will fall flat if they're badly written. As a general rule, the more concise you can make your text the better... as long as your writing doesn't lose its enthusiasm or professionalism. It's important to remember that a cover letter does not need to be a lengthy document. In fact, the opposite often tends to be true. Half, to a single side of A4 should usually be your target.
|TOP TIP #6: DON'T BE AFRAID TO SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY|
A document that is largely seen as highly formal can be a challenging backdrop to let your personality shine though. The most effective way to do this without sacrificing professionalism in your writing is to use impactful and energetic terms to describe which particular parts of the job description appeal to you the most. This will showcase which parts of the role you really carry a passion for.
|TOP TIP #7: START STRONG AND FINISH STRONG|
It's well known that we are often able to remember the first and last items in a sequence more so than the content in the middle. Ensure that your cover letter quickly engages the reader and draws them in to understand your suitability for the role you are applying for. Similarly, make sure the end of your letter encourages a 'call-to-action', whether that be a follow-up interview, phone call etc.
|TOP TIP #8: MAKE SURE YOUR DETAILS ARE PROFESSIONAL|
The email address you set-up years ago as your social media login may not be the best contact detail to include in your cover letter. Avoid any embarrassment by ensuring your email address includes your name with as little other information or embellishments as possible. If necessary, take a few minutes to set-up new email account using any of the major online providers. This will give you a professional address you'll be able to use for all future applications.
|TOP TIP #9: KEEP THE PRESENTATION SIMPLE|
Don't let your cover letter's fantastic content be undermined by garish fonts, colours and unnecessary imagery. You CV should use an easily legible font, of an appropriate size with sufficient spacing and breathing space providing by good formatting. A minimal aesthetic will allow the content of your cover letter to shine through. Well thought-out formatting and spacing can also be sufficient by itself to enable your cover letter to look elegant, smart and contemporary.
|TOP TIP #10: ONLINE CONSIDERATIONS|
If sent digitally, your cover letter may need to be read by people using different operating systems and applications. PDF formats are great for ensuring a high level of compatibility. Documents saved in 'Pages' on a Mac can cause issues for those running Windows but this tends to be less of an issue the other way round. You can follow up to ensure the document was successfully received and it can be a good idea to have the document prepared in a few formats.
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