When it comes to the job search process, for certain roles a targeted cover letter is essential, as a supporting document to your CV and to give you an opportunity to further highlight what it is that makes you a great candidate.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is possibly one of the more under utilised aspects of the job search process, it is a document that you would traditionally send with a CV when applying for a role - as the front cover, hence the name. It is different from your CV because it should be written specifically for the job in mind you are applying for. This allows you to highlight particular areas of your skills and work history that make you a suitable candidate for the role. The optimal length of a cover letter should be between 3 and 4 paragraphs.
Basic cover letter format
Whilst each cover letter should be tailored to the role that you are applying for, there is a basic format in terms of information to include which should be as follows:
- What the position of interest is and why
- Relevant skills and experience for the role
- Where these skills will benefit an employer
- Request an interview
How to write a targeted cover letter
A targeted cover letter only needs to be a relatively short document, however there are still a number of things that should be included, in order to stand out to a prospective employer:
- Tailor each cover letter to the role - when you are applying for multiple roles, each will have an emphasis on required and desired skills and qualifications, then it is key to ensure that these are made clear for each application. If you’re applying for a marketing manager role, you need to highlight your marketing skills and the skills that the role requires.
- Different to your CV - your cover letter should not just be the same as the CV that it is accompanying. As such, you need to use this opportunity to expand on relevant details from your career which make you an excellent candidate for a role.
- Mirror the job description - ensuring that your cover letter contains key words and phrases from the job description which are relevant to your career history is a clear indicator to prospective employers that you have the abilities required for the role they are recruiting for.
- Research the company - make sure that you have done your research on the company, such as the company and culture, the competition and the business’s future goals for the year. Look for ways to tie this into the experience you have already gained, and the goals that you have for your career.
- Personalisation - your cover letter should be addressed to the hiring manager, whereas if there is no contact name then you should use LinkedIn, or the company website to look up the name of the person responsible.
- Formatting - a cover letter should be seen as a formal document, as such it is key to ensure that it is well formatted and professional. Using fonts which are easy to read and clear, a good font size, avoiding logos and images, and ensuring the document is correct in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar are essential. Convention states that a cover letter should be the same as any other professional letter.
Online cover letters
A great number of job applications take place online, however the notion of including a cover letter is still a part of many applications. If you send a cover letter as an attachment, then take the approach you’d take with a physical attachment and save the document as a word or pdf document. PDF is considered the safest method as some users cannot open word documents on apple devices.
Sending the cover letter within the body of an email requires a different approach. For example the following should be the format of the subject line:
Application for [Job Title] – [Your Name]
In terms of the content of the message, then the paragraphs will be the same as if you were sending a physical copy of the document, however things such as your address, the business address and date do not need to be included, nor does a signature.
With a wealth of experience in CV writing and recruitment, CV People are well placed to create you a cover letter that will help you stand out from the crowd and get you noticed by prospective employers. Contact us today and make the next move in your career.
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