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How to Write a Cover Letter that Makes a Great First Impression
First impressions are everything. And when you’re looking for a new job, you want to make a good one.
You may have your CV prepared and ready to go, your suit or dress neatly hung in your wardrobe in the event of an interview invite. But have you paid the same amount of attention to your cover letter?
You should. Because it’s the first thing your prospective new employer will see… and the first reason they have to like or dislike you.
Here’s how to write a cover letter that will have employers hastily scouring your CV and picking up the phone.
Don’t repeat your CV
Your CV is there to show possible employers your experience and skills. So what’s the point of the cover letter? Well, many people make the mistake of just rehashing the CV by just listing all their skills and experience.
That’s a mistake.
Instead, the letter should highlight some of your most valuable skills and assets – ideally ones that the employer would value the most. You can get an idea of the attributes they’re after by looking at the job description on the job listing.
Prove your interest in the company
Another great way to get noticed is to show you what you know about the hiring company. Making it obvious you’ve researched and taken an interest in their work, values and ethos is a great way to demonstrate that you’re interested in the role.
Work into your cover letter some acknowledgements about the company, and why you’d like to work for them.
Keep it short and sweet
Employers receive stacks of applications. Sometimes hundreds. So they don’t want to spend all day trawling through pages and pages of fluff. To stand out from the crowd and make an instant impression, keep your cover letter to a maximum of one side of A4 (in a reasonable, legible font size).
Getting your point across succinctly and clearly is key. Here’s a helpful structural template to follow, that’ll help you get they key information across quickly and easily:
- Open with “Dear (Name),” – if you don’t know the name of the person, opt for “Dear Sir or Madam”, or the more contemporary “Dear Hiring Team,”
- In the first paragraph, explain that you’re writing to apply for (the job role or title), and where you discovered the job. For example: “I wish to apply for the role of HR Assistant, as advertised on AdView“
- In the next paragraph, offer a summary of your relevant skills and experience to explain why you’re an ideal candidate for the role
- In the third paragraph, add some information on why you want to work for the company, as well as and what you can bring to the table to help them
- Conclude with a final statement outlining your eagerness to progress your application, along the lines of: “I am available to discuss the role further, and look forward to hearing from you soon”
Watch out for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors
Once you’re done, it’s time to send.
Wait! Before you hit the print button (or fire up your emails – many workplaces now desire paperless communications), have you checked it over?
Not everybody has a masterful grip of the English language, and a few typos here and there don’t always hurt. But in a cover letter, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can give the wrong impression to potential employers. It may come across as slap-dash or suggest that you don’t take pride in your work – even if that’s not true.
If you’re unsure or not confident, have someone give your cover letter a proof read before you send it off. You could also run your letter through Grammarly, which is a great free tool that helps identify mistakes and tighten up your writing.
Remember; you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Make it count with your cover letter.