Are cover letters still relevant?
In the modern-day world of LinkedIn and social recruiting, many jobseekers are asking if they should still send a cover letter with their job application. In most cases, the answer is yes. Unless otherwise stated in the job description or advert, always include a cover letter with your application.
A well-written cover letter could help you stand out to a recruiter, so it’s worth learning how to write a professional and eye-catching letter. Here are some of our top tips to help you write a great cover letter.
What is a cover letter?
In short, a cover letter acts as an introduction to your application. It accompanies your CV and should encourage the employer to consider your application for the role.
When writing a cover letter it is important that you don’t simply rewrite your CV. Each job you apply for should be accompanied by a new cover letter, tailored to that specific role and employer.
Remember that the employer is likely to receive many applications for the same role so it’s important that you find a way to stand out from the other applicants. An engaging and professional cover letter can help you do this.
How to structure your cover letter
The best way to approach writing a cover letter is generally to structure it as a professional letter. There might be exceptions if the job is particularly creative and the job description asks you to showcase this in your application.
A good cover letter will usually be no more than one page of A4 in length. It will include the applicant’s address, usually in the top right-hand corner of the page and will use the contact’s full name.
We suggest you use the following template to structure the content of your cover letter:
Your opening sentence should tell the employer exactly why you are writing. State which role you are interested in and where you saw it advertised. Ensuring that you include this last element is helpful for the employer in terms of improving their recruitment process.
Paragraph 2: Skills and experience
This paragraph should really kick off your application with a confident personal statement. Use this opportunity to highlight your most relevant skills or experience. The job description should be a good guide as to what you should highlight in this section.
Be sure to include how the skills or experience you highlight make you a great candidate for the role and the company. It’s important that everything you write gives a good impression – but make sure this is an honest reflection on you and your skills.
Paragraph 3: Show your enthusiasm for the industry
Now that you’ve demonstrated how you’d be a great fit for the role and the company, you should next explain why you are interested in this particular job. Make sure you come across as passionate about the industry.
Do some research into the company. Are there any projects that you’re particularly keen to work on? How would your skills make you an asset with this?
Bear in mind that employers are often looking for people who are likely to stay with the company for a long period. Showing that you are enthusiastic about the company and the industry will reassure them of this.
It is important to maintain a positive and confident tone throughout your letter and make sure your sign off is just as strong. Tell the employer that you look forward to hearing from them, encouraging further dialogue with regards to your application, and reiterate your interest in the role.
Sign off with ‘yours sincerely’ as it’s a formal letter and use your full name.
How much should you write?
You shouldn’t need to write any more than one side of A4. The key to writing cover letters is to be concise. Be ruthless with your proofreading and cut out anything unnecessary that isn’t directly relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Once professionally formatted and including your address, around 300-350 words should fit on one side of A4. The font you choose should be easy to read and around 12pt.
How to address your cover letter
Ideally, the job description will include the name of the hiring manager and you should address the letter to them, using their full name.
If there are no contact details on the application, you can do a bit of research and see if the manager of the department you’re applying to or an HR manager is listed on the company website. You could even give the HR department a call if you want to check.
If you can’t find the information anywhere, there are a couple of general but professional greetings that you can use:
- Dear Sir/Madam
- To Whom It May Concern
Our top ten automotive industry cover letter tips:
- Be concise: Remember that it’s definitely quality over quantity when it comes to cover letters. The employer probably won’t have time to read pages and pages of detail so make sure you can catch their eye quickly.
- Formatting: Keep it professional. This is likely to make a good first impression.
- Don’t rewrite your CV: A CV and cover letter don’t give you much room to introduce yourself, don’t waste space by repeating yourself.
- Prove it: If you claim you have a certain skill, give examples of how you’ve used it and how it would be useful within the context of the job you’re applying for.
- Don’t send generic cover letters: Each application you send out should be accompanied by a unique cover letter tailored to the company and the specific role.
- Perspective: Remember to look at it from the employer’s perspective. They’ll want to know what you can offer them, not what’s in it for you.
- Salary expectations: Unless the job description asks you to detail your salary expectations in your application, don’t mention it here.
- Be positive: Make sure the tone of your cover letter is professional yet positive. You need to prove to the employer that you really do want to work for them.
- Proofread: Double check all the spelling, that you’ve addressed it to the right person and you’ve used the correct job title.
- Double check: Even better, get someone else to proofread it for you.
What are your views?
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