What should I put in my cover letter?

Tuesday 2 July, 2013
What is a cover letter? A cover letter is often required to be submitted with a resume when applying for a job. It's the first opportunity to impress an employer and the moment to highlight your enthusiasm for the job or company and to promote your relevant work strengths and skills. Should I write a cover letter even if I'm not asked? It's always better to include a cover letter unless the job application has specifically asked applicants not to provide one. What's in a cover letter? This largely depends on what job you apply for. The same cover letter should never be used for more than one job application, even if the two roles are very similar. A cover letter should be tailored and written specifically for that position and should directly refer to the criteria of the job application i.e. What is the business looking for? And, why are you the best applicant? Before writing your cover letter, read through the job advertisement and highlight what type of individual the business requires. Do they need someone with experience? With great communication skills? An ability to use Excel and Microsoft? In your cover letter, address these points however, remember to be brief and succinct. Most importantly, a cover letter should not be selfish. In it, you need to describe how you are going to positively contribute to a job title or business. For example, if you have noticed that the company's web page looks as if it hasn't been updated for years, you could add in your cover letter: 'My keen interest in social media and web development could highly benefit your company as I have the ability to bring high loads of traffic to web sites and make their layout more visually appealing and structured'. What's the usual structure of a cover letter? 1. Addresses, date, greeting and title: You need to include your name and address and the recipient's name and address at the top of the letter. Try to include a title for your cover letter as many employers and recruiters are busy people and like to be able to know what job an applicant is applying for quickly e.g. RE: Administrative Assistant for Better Health, then include the job reference number 2. Opening paragraph: introduce yourself and explain the opportunity or job role you are seeking. Summarise the reason why you are writing a cover letter and be specific with what job you want 3. Middle paragraphs: in these paragraphs you need to write about how your knowledge, skills and experience meet the selection criteria for the job. Try to use concrete examples, e.g. 'Working for five years at The Londoners Hotel has given me impeccable customer service skills and a great insight into the hoteliers industry'. Demonstrate that you understand the employer's expectations of the people who work for them; describe the type of person you are and how you'll fit into their workplace. Finally, outline how you can make significant contributions to the business or organisation. 4. Last paragraph and sign-off: in this section, express your desire for an interview and reiterate your contact details. How long should a cover letter be? If you are writing in short, succinct paragraphs and are directly addressing the job criteria, a cover letter should be no longer than one page. Can I use bullet points in a cover letter? Of course, it's a great way to make sure you are being succinct and to the point. Short, paragraphs look more professional however either is completely acceptable. Remember, before sending your cover letter • Don't exaggerate or lie in your cover letter but be confident and positive • Be specific and yet, succinct • Address the jobs criteria with specific examples • Make sure you come across as different to all the other job applicants through your experience, skills or future contributions to the company • Check grammar and spelling For an example of a cover letter, please click here. Now, OneShift offers a job seeker the ability to upload their own personal cover letter and resume so make sure you check us out online and keep up-to-date with out new functions and features. CoverLetterCartoon Image source: Comerecommended.com
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