Your cover letter and CV work together, and a well written cover letter helps you stand out from what will often be a very large pile of other cover letters a recruiting manager has to read and review.
They are looking for a letter that does the following:
- Clearly lays out that you have the skills they are looking for
- Gives an idea of who you are as a person
- Shows you have taken the time to read the application and made some effort to tailor your application
- Don't use a strange font, we recommend Verdana size 10, with size 12 for headings.
- Don't say "I am applying for X job at Y company" when you are really applying for B job at C company. You'd be surprised at how often this simple mistake is made and highlights that you’re using a generic letter.
- Don't go over one page - the purpose of the letter is to grab attention. Leave something to talk about at the interview!
- Don't get creative with punctuation, grammar, or spelling. Avoid text-speak, slang, and abbreviations. Keep it professional.
Keep these things in mind:
- Don't rewrite your CV - the cover letter should provide edited highlights from your CV.
- Use your own words not formal long-winded cliches.
- Answer the question "Why should I interview you?"
- Do your research on the company and the role to which you are applying.
- Try to avoid using 'I' too much. A page of I did this and I did that is not appealing - it says to the employer that you haven't thought about them.
- Do not use abbreviations.
- Check and then recheck your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Get someone else to read it through also.
- And finally, if you start with a name (e.g. "Dear Ms Smith") you should end with "Yours sincerely". If you start with "Dear Sir or Madam" you should end with "Yours faithfully".