How to write a Cover Letter: First Impressions Matter

Writing a great cover letter for me has never been an easy task, especially before I had years of experience to highlight. However, I always knew it was necessary to include it as a part of my job application. Cover letters shine a light on skills that may not be easy to address in your CV and help you stand out among the many applicants. This is an opportunity to not only tell potential employers why you are a great candidate but also why they need someone with your skills, creativity and passion.

When writing a cover letter there are a few tips you can follow in order to make this a less daunting exercise, and hopefully you will send your application with more confidence after highlighting how your current skills make you the perfect candidate. A great cover letter shows your skills and passion for the role, if you focus on that – why wouldn’t they hire you!

Step 1: The introduction

At first glance recruiters or employers want to know what position you are applying for. If you think about it, they get 100s of applications for multiple positions, therefore making it easier for them to know what position you are applying for helps them understand the content of your cover letter. Therefore highlight what position you are applying for (Bold and Underline) to get the ball rolling.

Example: Jane Smith: Administrative Internship Application

Step 2: Address your letter to the right person

Paying attention to the job advert is key, if the advert says email all applications to “Mr Smith” then address your letter to Mr Smith; addressing it to the right person not only assures that the right person receives it, but it also becomes more personal and shows that you paid attention to the advert. If there is no name linked to the job advert then address the letter to “To whom it may concern” as part of your introduction.

Step 3: Introduce yourself

As the saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Keep this in mind both in your cover letter as well as your CV. The introduction of your cover letter highlights what position you are applying for and provides a few sentences about who you are (for example are you a 3rd year Humanities student/ currently working as an intern/ currently a Marketing Assistant).

Step 4: How do your skills match the job?

Take time to research the company in order to write a cover letter that will stand out. If you have read a great blog about the company that is similar to a project you worked on, then highlight it; if the job requires someone who is good with customers and you have worked as a waitress or a customer service consultant, match your skills to the role. It is your time to really shine and tell them why you are qualified for the job, so do so.

Draw attention to specific skills and experiences that make you an ideal candidate for the advertised role and for the company overall.

Be careful not to simply repeat your CV or the job description

Step 5: Why are you excited to join their company?

These days, being the right cultural fit is equally as important as having the right skills; so as much as you need to highlight your skills, you also need to draw the reader into your CV by telling them about something awesome their company is doing that you would like to be a part of. Speaking “their language” is also key while also showing off your personality in a professional way. If the company seems lighthearted, show that in your letter; if they are very corporate and serious, be sure to include that tone in your letter.

Step 6: Close

In closing, invite the reader to refer to your CV for more information on your experience; thank them for their consideration and politely request an interview at the employer’s convenience.

Sign off with Kind Regards/ Sincerely, and include your name; email address and contact number.

A good cover letter will include the above points in one page to clearly highlight what makes you the right candidate for the role. Remember to proof read your letter to avoid typos, different font sizes and grammatical errors.

All the best!



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