As an active recruiter (I am the owner of HIREghana, www.HIREgh.com), my associates and I come daily through several candidates’ CVs and (lack of) accompanying Cover Letters. Over the years, I have also read several unfortunately bad books on Cover Letters (why do you need a book to tell someone how to write a simple letter?) and a lot of outdated online advice.
So, kindly allow me to offer some brief tips coming from experience.
Why a Cover Letter?
The Cover Letter (or maybe it should be called Cover Email these days) is the introduction of your candidacy for this role and an invitation to the reader to look at your CV.
In a company (recruitment or normal employer), where they might receive a few hundred applications for just a single but specific role, your cover letter might be the deciding factor that makes someone open your CV attachment and read your CV instead of placing it into a ‘look at it later on’- folder.
Also for a lot of readers, your cover letter is a proof of your written communication skills. Do you think that if you apply for a job that requires such skills, an email with a 1-Line: ‘look at my cv’ will help your application?
Please spend the time to write a proper letter/ a proper communication.
Write a clear Subject Line
Like any other communication, indicate what is it about: – show the role name or an applicable reference number; remember an employee might have more than one vacancy open.
Avoid any subject title that shows that this is a Forwarded message of something you wrote for someone else.
1st little Paragraph: the WHY
Just 2-3 Lines maximum, explaining why are you writing this letter. Can be as simple as ‘I am applying for this role I saw there and I believe I am a perfect fit’. If possible find the recruiter’s personal name; after all it is a personal communication.
2nd Paragraph: WHO are you?
Just 6-10 Lines maximum, explaining who are you as a professional and what relevant skills do you have. This should be straightforward and clear- not a copy and paste of sentences from your CV.
3rd Paragraph: WHAT can YOU do for THEM?
Another 6-10 Lines maximum, communicating to the recruiter –ideally in a factual manner- why you are the perfect fit for them. It is basically your opportunity to tell them what you can do for them (again as it relates to that role) and convince them that you can do so.
4th Paragraph: WHY Them?
Just 3-4 Lines maximum: tell them in your own words why you will want to work for them and not for any company that can offer you a job. Google the company- it really makes a difference.
5th paragraph: What’s NEXT?
Just 2-3 Lines maximum: this is the end of your communication. Do you want to tell them that you are looking forward to hearing from them or do you want to propose a meeting on Friday in a week from now at 3pm and have them possibly reply to you whether they are available or not?
Give people time to respond (minimum 2 weeks) / follow up with an acknowledgement, instead of bombarding them with mail or phone communication.
If you are asked to provide your CV in Word format, they probably have a good reason for asking for it; so don’t respond with a PDF file or a photograph of your CV in a jpeg format.
If asked about your current salary and employment termination notice, please respond promptly and not after 10 days or so. Assuming that you want that job of course…
Use excellent Grammar, correct Syntax + your Spell- Checker!
Writing a good Cover Letter is that simple. And, it does place you ahead of the crowd.
Good Luck please.