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How To Tackle A Cover Letter

A cover letter should be a formal and brief explanation of why you are suitable for a job. Too often applicants are rejected for sending employers a badly presented and unfocused cover letter. Here are some of the most common problems job seekers fall into.

List Your Relevant Experience

The first thing you want a cover letter to do is grab an employer’s attention. The best way to do this is to detail the most relevant experience you have in regards to the role you’re applying for.

Providing good examples of times when you were in a situation worthy of comparison are key to illustrating this.

For example, if you are applying for a marketing role, using something as seemingly vague as your personal use of social media can make all the difference as it shows you already have some knowledge of the platforms such companies use to communicate with the public.

So Why Are You Interested?

While it’s good form to detail your experience and ambition, it is just as important to explain why you want the job.

Be enthusiastic and explain how the role will assist your career on a wider scale in the future. For example, if you are applying for a proof-reading job, you could elaborate about how this will be good experience for your future career as a writer that you wish to pursue. Employers like to see ambition and self-motivation.

Good Structure

One of the most important parts of a good cover letter is having a clear and concise structure. This will make you appear professional and well-ordered.

Throwing in random points about yourself throughout the application just looks messy and will make you appear disorganised.

Listing one point at a time will make the information you provide more manageable. Having a paragraph for each point you want to make is also a wise approach.

Think of your cover letter as an essay. You wouldn’t submit coursework without a well-structured argument to it would you? Nope, you’d offer a concisely written and strong-structured text from beginning to end.

Don’t Repeat Your CV

This one pretty much speaks for itself. Don’t recite the contents of your CV in a cover letter, and also be sure not to write something as brash as ‘see my CV or details’. An employer will read your CV if they like your cover letter. Telling them to consult it is just rude and pointless.

Naturally some of what you mention in a cover letter will correspond with the details of your CV, but do NOT just copy and paste parts of your CV into your letter. This looks lazy and gives the impression that you have sent out a hundred other applications just like it.

Know Your Employer

This might seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how many job-seekers apply for a position without doing any research about the company they’re applying to.

Not only does research show how keen you are to work for the organisation, it will also give you a better idea of what to expect from the job itself.

This doesn’t mean reciting the company’s own business back to them, but by including just one of two sentences that reference their practice will show that you are a dedicated applicant who will prosper from their employment.

Big Yourself Up!

Remember that with a cover letter you are effectively advertising your skills to an employer, so feel free to go hog wild on the boasting scale.

Be sure to big yourself up by listing any achievements that are related to the job. For example, if you’re applying for an editorial role, mention any writing experience you have gained no matter how irrelevant it seems to this position, after all, an employer likes to see a broad range of interests in an applicant.

Experience is Success

If you feel your cover letter is a little light and lacking in some key areas, try looking for some voluntary writing opportunities or marketing work experience from which you can gain some additional skills that will give extra weight to your cover letter.