A cover letter (also covering letter) is an additional document usually attached to your CV. It provides more information about your skills and experience. It allows a potential employer to know you better and should encourage him/her to invite you to a job interview.
How does the cover letter look like?
It can be divided into 3 parts:
a) First paragraph – acts as an opening paragraph, this is the place where you should explain why you are you writing it, the position you are applying for, where you saw this job offer and when you are ready to start,
b) Middle paragraphs – usually 2 or 3 paragraphs, here you can elaborate on job features you are attracted to, why you are interested in working with a particular company/ sector, what you can offer to them, you can also demonstrate your assets and abilities, join them with requirements in the job offer,
c) Last paragraph – present your willingness to personal interview with the employer, say thank you and how you are looking forward to receiving a response.
Make the cover letter more successful:
- be concise and to the point - keep it to one side of A4;
- use the same quality plain white paper you used to print your CV;
- include a named contact whenever possible to show you have sent it to them personally;
- relate your skills to the job advert and make a case for why the employer should want to meet with you;
- proofread - always double-check your spelling and grammar without relying on a computer spellcheck program;
- target the company by tailoring your cover letter for each application;
- page layout should be easy on the eye, set out with the reader in mind;
- check to make sure you have got the company name and other key details right;
- read it and cut out any unnecessary words or sentences;
- if sending electronically, put the text in the body of the email rather than as an attachment to avoid it being detected by spam filters;
- stick to your own words, avoiding jargon and formal clichés.
Gaps in CV
Sometimes it happens that you have breaks in your career history. The cover letter is a place where you can explain why you have gaps.
Some examples include:
- returning to work after a gap year;
- having children;
- caring for a sick relative;
- suffering from a recurring medical condition; and