In a previous blog post we discussed whether or not to include a cover letter with your employment application. My advice is yes, always take the time to individually craft a letter for each and every application. For more information see To cover letter or not?
Having made the decision to write a cover letter, use these tips to make sure you’ve covered all the do’s and don’ts.
Cover letters should be concise and to the point. One page is more than enough. Respect the time of busy employers and recruiters; expecting them to be able to read 3 or 4 page letters can seem quite rude.
Your cover letter should be written using short paragraphs with 3 or 4 sentences per paragraph.
It is perfectly fine to use bullet points in your letter to highlight particular points. It is a great way of breaking up chunks of text and focusing attention of areas of importance.
The general structure of a cover letter is 4 paragraphs as follows:
First paragraph: A strong opening that grabs attention and tells the employer what you can do for them. Entice them to read your resume properly rather than a quick scan
Second paragraph: Discuss your unique selling points (USPs) and importantly, link them back to the employer’s needs. Your aim is to build a bridge between your USPs and their needs – don’t leave it open to interpretation, tell them.
Third paragraph: This is the section where you focus on your qualifications and experience. Don’t repeat verbatim what is in your resume.
Fourth paragraph: Close your letter with a call to action or at the very least, request an action. For instance, request an interview and tell them when you will follow up.
Cover Letter Do’s
Cover Letter Don’ts
How to send your cover letter
This is a question I am often asked. You have 3 choices when applying online.
There is no hard and fast rule. Everyone is different – some people prefer the convenience of one document, others say it increases the chances of both documents being read, others will tell you that if you attach 2 files only 1 will be opened. The safest way to approach it is to use points 2 or 3 above.
Proofread – over and over again. Read it backwards, read it aloud, give it to someone else to read, but make sure it is 100% error free! A mistake in your cover letter can mean that your resume never gets read!
Double-check the details of the addressee – correct spelling of the person’s first and surname and the correct position title.
Make a diary note of when you said you would follow up and be sure to do it!
Many jobseekers fall into the trap of spending time meticulously crafting a great resume and only give their cover letters a passing glance.
Don’t make that mistake; the cover letter is an important part of your application and should be treated with as much thought as your resume.
© Michelle Lopez, Owner/Career Consultant
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