With the increasing use of smartphones and laptops, lots of people are unsure if they need to write a covering letter when applying for a job. What is the relevance of CV or resume cover letters nowadays?
Even if you are applying for jobs online, cover letters work. Now that more applications are being made online, it is more important to understand the value of an effective cover letter.
An e-mail which introduces you and highlights your skills and achievements can help get your CV read. That e-mail is the modern cover letter.
The tips below are tried, tested and trusted. More importantly they work and will make sure you create a positive impression on the reader.
5 points about cover letters that work
1. Think about it
What is this letter for? Why are you writing it? What is its purpose? What do you think the company may be looking for? Your cover letter should spell out exactly how you think you could be of use to them!
2. Do I really need one?
YES! Many people make the mistake of not sending a covering letter. Your cover letter should be seen as an introduction to the prospective employer as well as a means of highlighting your key attributes. Don’t expect an employer to plough through your CV or application form to search for your strengths.
3. Get a name
Try to send your letter to a name rather than a job title. Letters beginning Dear Sir or Madam are less likely to be read than those directed to a person. (Always check the spelling of their name!) Try to write to the Head of the Department in which you hope to work. They’ll know before Personnel if a vacancy is coming up.
4. Be positive
Tell them what you can do, don’t mention what you can’t! Remember you are marketing yourself – so highlight your key skills!
5 more points about cover letters that work
5. Check your grammar
Poor spelling and grammatical errors make it look as though you did not take trouble over your letter, so why should a company think you’ll pay attention to the details of the job?
6. Be relevant
Don’t waffle. Remember KISS (Keep It Short and Simple). If your best qualifications are not relevant to the job, don’t emphasise them.
7. Don’t overwrite
Get to the point! Let your CV / resume do the rest! If your CV does not mention something which you think could be important – make sure it goes into your cover letter. The more plain and simple your language; the better. The person getting the application needs it to be clear on first reading – they won’t take time to read it twice!
Your written cover letter should be on plain white good quality paper (A4 size). It should be typed if possible, (spell and grammar-checked) or very clearly handwritten in black ink. Coloured paper and coloured inks look unprofessional.
9. Keep it brief
Try and keep it to 1 page and 3 to 4 paragraphs. Your letter should cover the following:
- The position for which you are applying.
- Why you want the job.
- How your skills are suitable for the job.
- Your knowledge of the organisation.
10. Make it look inviting
Long sentences or paragraphs and too much closely-written or typed text make letters look unappealing and difficult to read. Use a straightforward writing style and leave lots of white space.
Electronic / Computer generated cover letters
An electronic or computer generated cover letter should follow the same rules above.
- Use a standard recognised font. (To make sure it can be read.)
- Use black text.
- Make sure that your cover letter is neatly formatted.
- Check your document for grammar and spelling mistakes.
Are you looking for other great example cover letters in your field to introduce your CV/resume to a prospective employer? Go to our sample CV cover letters section to find cover letter templates such as:
Before you send out your cover letter, please remember how important it is to check for grammar and punctuation. Sometimes a word transposed or omitted can have a devastating effect. Just look at some of the worst CV mistakes for examples of bad grammar and punctuation.