Although many job applications are now done online in fancy, new-fangled digital application forms, many companies still favour the traditional CV and cover letter application combo. Whether it’s a speculative application or one targeted at a specific job advertisement, the covering letter is a key ingredient in this process. This article takes a look at how to write a covering letter for all those companies that are keeping it real and asking you to tell them all about your employability on just one page of A4.
Essentially, the covering letter is the paper equivalent of that initial few seconds when we meet someone. Much is judged upon little! The ultimate aim of the covering letter is to politely scream “choose me”, in a way that convinces an employer that you are worthy of them offering you an interview. No pressure then!
Let’s take a second to consider the employer’s perspective: “I want someone that is perfect for the job as soon as possible with the minimum amount of fuss or hassle. That means don’t waste my time, don’t waffle and get straight to the point.” If you fail to fit within any of the above criteria then you’ll be given short shrift from the employer. That means shift F7 is definitely out of the question for this one!
When creating you covering letter masterpiece, it is important that you follow a clear structure. Outlined below is an example that most recruitment consultancies and employers recommend ‘potentials’ follow:
Who are you & why are you writing to me?
You must let them know this within the first few lines of your covering letter; otherwise it is unlikely they will go any further, e.g. “My name is Joe Gissajob and I’m writing to apply for the position of Editorial Assistant that I saw advertised on the XYZ website.”
Why do you want the job?
Be honest. Discuss what excites you about the specific job responsibilities. Demonstrate your enthusiasm in an original but appropriate way.
What attracts you to the company & the position you are applying for?
Mentioning money is probably not the best thing to do here. Employers will be far more receptive to your application if you have taken the time to understand their business and how the role you are applying for will fit into it.
Why should you be offered the job?
The elders of a settlement in rural India may have honoured you for your efforts in preparing their village for the monsoon season, but can you use Outlook and Excel? Don’t simply see this section as an opportunity to put down every achievement since primary school on the page. It must be relevant and it must encourage them to read on.
Consider selecting three or four qualities that you possess which match the needs of the job. Be wary of exaggerating anything though. You’ll soon be found out if you didn’t actually invent the chip and pin device!
Briefly detail any practical issues that might need to be addressed. If they specify you must have a clean driving license, this is your opportunity to let them know.
To summarise, when writing your covering letter: be concise, tailor it to the job specification and talk up the relevant qualities you possess that make you ideal for the position. Most importantly though, good luck!