Writing an Effective cover letter

It is important to know how to create a good first impression. In essence, we only get given one chance at doing so, and unfortunately there are no reverses or going backs. So make your first impression count!!!

This is your opportunity to attract the right attention, and sets the foundation for any relationship that is formed between you and your potential employer.

Your cover letter brings your CV to life, almost like the icing on top of the cake. This personalised written document that is sent alongside your CV, will explain your credentials and your interests in the relevant open position. A good cover letter alongside a strong CV can go a long way to ensuring you obtain an interview, and highlights the fact that you are the right person for the role.

With any document, having a clear structure is important. It allows your reader to follow your thought process, and highlights that you know the job you want and that you are the right person for the role. Developing a strategic framework for your cover letter will keep your cover letter relevant and to the point. Here I will provide you with a basic guideline on how you can do this;

  • Introduction
  • Why the company?
  • Why the role?
  • Why me?
  • Conclusion

Introduction

Address the letter to a named person if possible. Make the person who reads it feel special, by addressing it to them personally and not making it seem that your application is being sent out to 10 other companies. To find out their name, research your target organisation until you have the name and gender of the person who will be reading your application.

However, this may not always be possible, so you may have to rely on a generic greeting.

Sir/Madam will be the most appropriate in this case.

Provide a brief introduction stating what you’re applying for and when you are looking to start.
“I am applying for the TV and radio summer internship position at the firm starting in the summer of 2013”.

 

Why the company

Here you can include your knowledge of the company you are applying to. Focus on their ethos, reputation, and any corporate social responsibility they are involved in (charity work). Make sure you show to them in your cover letter what attracted you to applying for a role at their firm. Try not to give them a generic answer, and dig deeper to find out something that differentiates the company from the competition.

Why the role

You need to provide evidence of the role, understanding of the role you are applying for, and how you fit the criteria required. You can talk about why you have decided to apply for that role specifically, and how you will benefit from the opportunity. Focus on why you feel you are most suited to that role with regards to your academic strengths. An example of this is that a trader is expected to be highly numerate, so you would aim to highlight your strength in mathematics. You can also relate certain skills that you have, to the job you are applying for.

Why me

Once again, sell yourself!

Why should the company hire you ahead of the thousands of applicants for the same role?

What can you bring to the company that will interest them?

Will your future work colleagues enjoy sitting next to you for ten hours a day?

Is there more to you than just a strong academic background?

Make sure your answers are tailored to each role you apply for. A cover letter for an opportunity at a media company will be different to the cover letter for an accounting firm. Don’t make the mistake of having a ‘one size fits all’ cover letter because experienced recruiters can read right through it. 

The main aim is to reflect your personality and how that goes hand in hand with the ‘personality’ of the company. Use key words which help to imply how you are as a person. For example talking about a particular piece of group research you conducted with your class mates at university tells the reader you are analytical and a team player.
 

Conclusion

Mention when you would be available for an interview, thanking the employer and telling them you wish to hear from them soon. End with yours sincerely if the persons name is not known and with Yours Faithfully if you know the name of the person you are sending the letter to.

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