- Create a good first impression.
- Interest the reader in your CV, resume or application form.
- Motivate them to invite you to an interview.
Quite a challenge! Note that is not the place to tell your life story, summarize everything on your CV or explain why you are applying even though you don’t meet the criteria.
Writing a good letter is a challenge, but not impossible if you follow the five tips below.
1: Always use a cover letter for job applications
Unless you’re specifically asked not to. Different recruiters might put more or less emphasis on it, but it’s a mistake to assume they won’t read it.
Think of it this way – your cover letter highlights your interest in the job and adds to the impact of your CV, resume or job application.You can bet at least one of your competitors will take advantage of that, even if you don’t.
2.Keep it BRIEF – no more than one page
I can’t emphasise this enough. It is extremely rare that a cover letter for job application needs to be more than one page long.
Business people are busy people, and they generally don’t spend more than 30 seconds reading any business letter. Once you go over one page you’re in danger of coming across as a bit of a windbag.
Click here for an example of a cover letter.
You may get away with it in the interview. But if you get the job and your employer finds out later, they may well fire you.
Don’t forget your cover letter for job application will probably be kept on file. If you lie in your cover letter it’s obviously deliberate, and it could come back to haunt you when you least expect it.
4.Focus on your reader
It’s easy to think that the cover letter for job application is all about you. Actually, it’s the reader you need to focus on, especially when you’re structuring your letter.
Start by putting yourself in your reader’s shoes.
This person – let’s call him Dave – probably has to weed out about five interview candidates from of a pile of hundreds. He probably doesn’t want to stay late at the office to get the work done.
First paragraph: Why are you writing? Make it clear in the first paragraph what job you are responding to.
Second and third paragraphs: Why should Dave put you on the shortlist? Get to the point – briefly explain why you are the right person for the job. Refer back to the advertisement and use the key words and phrases from it.
Last paragraph: Now Dave just needs to know how to contact you. Make sure that when he does call you, someone answers the phone (you or your voicemail).
What if I’m applying on spec? Try to write to a named individual within the organization and think about what their priorities are. Do your homework.
5.Edit & proofread the letter
If Dave has to weed out five applications he’s going to be looking for ways to quickly eliminate as many as possible.
Inaccurate spelling, punctuation and grammar are the easiest knock-out criteria for any recruiter.
Always print out and read your cover letter when you’ve finished it, even if you’re sending it by email. Even better, get a friend to check it.
Job hunting leaving you cold?
Do you enjoy writing,travelling and exploring? Then you might consider teaching English abroad instead.
I did this in Asia and then Spain for a few years and it changed my life, very much for the better. I learned new skills, made new friends, and experienced living in different cultures – which is very different from just being a tourist!
How much money you can make depends on where you teach – rates are pretty good in the Middle East and Japan. Check out this site for thelowdown on teaching English in Japan. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a great way to expand your horizons and fund your travels if you suffer from itchy feet. Be warned though; it can be addictive…