What is a cover letter?

A cover letter accompanies your CV as part of most job applications. It provides the hiring department with further detail on how your education and working background fits to the role, what you can bring to the team and why you want to work in this position. Cover letters also allow the hiring departments to develop a better understanding of your suitability for a position.

A cover letter is addressed to the interviewer or hiring manager. Cover letters should highlight your interest in the role as well as the set of skills and experiences that make you the best candidate for the position. The size of cover letter must not be more than one page.

Within the cover letter, you should align your qualifications, relevant skills and previous experience clearly to the job description. This will show to the other side that you have dedicated time and effort to apply and your interest for the position.

How do I write a cover letter?

An easy and organized way to write a cover letter is to split it in parts. You can find a basic template of a cover letter here.

Part 1: Contact details of the company and position we apply for We write them before we write anything else on the left top part of the page. We can include the name of the organization and the name of the hiring manager (if we know it). We also include the position we apply for as it is written in the job description. If we don’t know the name of the manager we only keep the company’s name.

Part 2: Body of the letter

Salutation: We open the letter with ‘’Dear Sir/Mr Madame/Mrs” and the name of the hiring manager (if it is mentioned in the job advert). In case we don’t know the name of the manager we either leave it blank or write ‘’Dear hiring manager’’.

Opening line: Here we mention the reason we are writing this letter for. We also mention where we saw the job advert.

Main body copy (1 or 2 paragraphs): In this part we describe the work experience and/or educational background we have which are related to the position we apply for. We highlight our studies and our responsibilities and achievements (if any) that are similar to the position we are applying for. You can choose some of the ones that are described in the job advert and include them in your letter. It is an easy and helpful way to create this part. In this paragraph we also highlight some of the most important skills we developed through our working experience or some of our personal characteristics that will be valuable in this position. An easy way to choose the skills you will include in your cover letter is to look at the ones mentioned in the job description. Always mention the ones you truly have! If you want, you can dedicate one paragraph to describe your work experience and one to describe your skills. Both ways are equally accepted and if done in the right way they can bring you the desired result. It is good to dedicate some lines on why you want to work in this company/organization. Whether you admire this specific employer or not you have to write why you choose to work with them and express the confidence that you can add value to their actions and vision.

Last lines and request for an interview: Before closing the letter, thank the person who will dedicate time to read it and ask for the opportunity to have an interview with them.

Part 3: Closing We close the letter with the expressions of ‘’Yours faithfully’’ or ‘’Yours sincerely’’. We use ‘’yours faithfully’’ if we don’t know the person we are writing to and ‘’yours sincerely’’ if we do know them. Under that comes our name, our telephone number, and our email.

Tips for the perfect Cover Letter

Tailor to the organization - You should rewrite your cover letter every time you apply for a position in order to target the company and the different aspects of each position. Sending out a generic letter for all applications rarely brings positive results and recruiters can spot your lack of time and effort from a mile away.

Format - Presentation is important so you'll need to format your cover letter properly. Make sure the document has clear paragraphs, no grammar mistakes and use the same font and size as you use in your CV.

Identify your unique characteristics and skills - They're your unique selling points. Be positive about what you have to offer and clearly outline how your skills and experience meet those requested in the job description. Demonstrate why you're the perfect candidate!

Keeping in mind that employers often receive lots of applications for each vacancy, you need to make sure that your cover letter makes a lasting impression, for the right reasons!