What is a cover letter, you ask? Good question.
A cover letter supports the information in your CV, filling in gaps to highlight relevant work experience or achievements that the employer should know. A good cover letter should be no more than one side of A4. It should also let the employer know who you are, why you are interested, what you can offer, and how to contact you. The general sentiment should be I care about this, and I’m willing to work hard for it. But don’t just tell them that. Show it through how much time and effort you are willing to put into writing the perfect cover letter.
Remember, you are not the only person applying for the position, and some of the other candidates will have better grades and more experience. So, use this document to level the playing field and make the kind of impression that an employer can’t help but notice. Before long, you’ll start to understand what you have to offer a business, allowing you to gain confidence in your abilities that will support you during the interview process.
First things first, don’t write anything until you have thoroughly read the job advert and highlighted key points of interest. While keeping things brief, provide a summary of your skills and experience, remaining positive throughout and backing up any claims you make with evidence.
Every employer is different. When it comes to the cover letter, it isn’t a case of one size fits all, so amend information from employer to employer, targeting their wants and needs each time.
Remember to include your name, address, phone number, the date and enclose or attach a copy of your CV. DON’T repeat exactly what your CV already says. The trick is to highlight the relevant points in the CV and provide more information.
At the start of your cover letter, always try to find out the name of the person you are contacting. It looks a lot more professional and shows you have made an effort to find out their name. Do your best to avoid addressing covering letters to Dear Sir or Madam and try to use Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms and then your contact’s surname. NEVER use their first name.
If you are sending the letter via post, include your address and the name and address of the employer. However, if you are emailing them, you can avoid adding this information.
The opening paragraph is where you tell the employer who you are and why you are writing. This doesn’t mean starting with the sentence “I am writing to you today…”. Everyone does this, and if you want to make an impression, you need to be a little creative and try something different.
Talk about the role you’re applying for and how you heard about it, especially if it was from a mutual acquaintance. There’s something to be said for nepotism.
Be sure to add a reason why you would be great for the job. Some enthusiasm is allowed here, but don’t lay it on too thick as it will put off the employer.
In this paragraph, outline why you want to work for this company, in this role, in this industry. This next part will require a bit of research. Tell them why you would prefer to work for them then one of their competitors.
This will show you understand what the business has to offer its customers and you as an employee, as well as boosting the employer’s ego. Which can’t hurt your chances of getting an interview.
Make sure you have read the job description carefully, as this paragraph is where you need to highlight the skills, work experience, and education that have prepared you for this job role and the business. Referencing your CV can help back up these claims, allowing you to show them the evidence without having to detail every aspect in your cover letter. The aim is still to keep everything clear and to the point.
Finishing off, you want to briefly state when you are available for an interview and cover any practical issues that may come up, like salary expectations. This is as important for you as it is for the employer because if your expectations are higher than what they are willing to pay, it is better to know sooner rather than later. Remember to show you are optimistic by saying, “I’m looking forward to your reply.”
If you have addressed the cover letter to a named recipient, always end the letter with ‘Yours sincerely’ and ‘Yours faithfully’ if you were unable to find a name. Also, remember to put your name under this. You wouldn’t think I would have to say that, but you would be surprised.
Please, please, please SPELL CHECK!!!
Chances are there will be errors that will need to be resolved before sending your CV to potential employers. By this, I mean spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, incorrect information, etc. Whether you use Microsoft Word’s spell check, Grammarly, or you get someone else to read it and point out errors, it doesn’t matter. Just spell check.
It is also worth noting that if the employer is likely to view your cover letter onscreen, be sure to use a font they can read. The benefit of digitally sending your cover letter is that you don’t have to worry about messy handwriting. Choose something that has a proven track record and is used in a wide variety of documents, like Helvetica. Don’t even entertain the idea of using Comic Sans. I beg of you!
If you are interested in employing an apprentice for your business or looking for an apprenticeship for yourself, feel free to give us a call on 0121 236 2634, where you can speak directly to a qualified member of staff.