1. Fit your Cover Letter into a single A4 page
The absolute maximum length of your Cover Letter should be a page; not a single line more.
“But, why?” I hear you ask. Glad you asked; it should be as short as possible because your Cover Letter will be merely one of the dozens or hundreds of others that employers need to look through.
Furthermore, lengthy letters to employers is the same as saying:
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
- Be straight to the point
- Keep it brief
- Keep it relevant
2. Use an appropriate opening salutation
Opening salutations such as “Dear Sir/Madam” or the dreaded “To Whom It May Concern” are not ideal opening salutations for your Cover Letter, to put it gently…
What you want is something a little bit more powerful: always address a specific person in particular, rather than use a generic opening salutation.
Don’t know who you’re sending the email to? Take the initiative to find out!
Alternatively, you may want to address the employer by their job position: “Dear Manager”, “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear HR Manager.”
3. Don’t beg. Please.
Coming over as weak, needy and/or desperate can eliminate your chances of getting an interview faster than you can say “Rejected!”
The impression that you want to give is one of self-respect, self-worth and confidence.
It is them that need you. Not the opposite.
You can apply for thousands of others jobs and contribute positively to thousands of other organisations. It is, ultimately, their loss if they do not hire you.
THIS is the attitude that you want to convey respectfully (not arrogantly) on your Cover Letter.
4. Don’t rewrite your CV – complement it!
Many job seekers are strangely under the impression that somehow the Cover Letter is a summary of their CVs.
This is not the case.
Your Cover Letter should complement the content of your CV. These two documents go hand-in-hand and the less overlap of content there is, the better. This, however, does not mean that you cannot refer to one or two major achievements mentioned on your CV.
5. Follow a standard structure
A Cover Letter should have the following standard structure:
- Paragraph one: The reason why you are writing this letter
- Paragraph two: Why you are the right candidate for the job
- Paragraph three: Why you are interested in working in that particular company
- Paragraph four: Closure and a polite call for action
Stick to this structure as much as possible, since employers have the previous experience to quickly extract relevant information that is presented in this format.
6. Show enthusiasm for working in that particular company
Use the third paragraph of your Cover Letter to mention the reasons why you would want to work in that particular company and what contribution you could make to its success.
“The reason why I am particular interested to work at WPC is because it offers a highly competitive salary” is, unfortunately, not going to be a good enough reason.
7. Make your Cover Letter presentable
One of the most important challenges of writing a Cover Letter is to keep the document neat and tidy. This means that information should be easily scanned and understood.
- Make appropriate use of white space
- Don’t squeeze to much information into the single page
- Keep the paragraph spacing/indentation consistent
8. Proof read your Cover Letter
Profereading for gramar and speling mistakes is crusial.
- Check your Cover Letter for spelling or grammar mistakes
- Double check
- Quadruple check
- Let someone else, besides Microsoft Word, proof read your Cover Letter!
9. Print on good quality paper
If you’re not sending your Cover Letter electronically then you might want to consider printing your CV on good quality paper.
“Good quality paper?! I thought all the printing papers were the same!”
In fact, the quality or weight of printing paper is expressed in grams per square meter (gsm). Normal photocopying paper is only 75 to 80gsm, which is not exactly what we’re after.
The ideal weight, which is not too light or too thick like a cardboard, is 100gsm.
10. Finally, don’t forget to sign your Cover Letter!
We’ve now reached the end of this Top 10 – thanks for sticking around till the very end! If you follow the above guidelines correctly, you will – undoubtedly – increase your chances of getting invited for an interview. Good luck!