Whether you’re sending an email or hand-delivering your application, you’ll need a great cover letter to introduce your CV. These simple cover letter tips will have you wowing recruiters.
Firstly, if you’re sending an email…
Attach your CV before you do anything else. It’s a common mistake to forget to attach your CV, so this tip will save you from embarrassment!
Give your attached CV a suitable filename that includes your full name. Mistakes can happen if everyone called their document ‘My CV’!
Think of your email message as your cover letter. Your letter shouldn’t be sent as a Word document attached to a blank email!
The very last thing you should do is put the recipients email address in the ‘To’ field, in case you accidentally hit ‘Send’.
Now, with regards to the content of your letter…
Make a great first impression
Address your letter to a person, such as ‘Dear Peter Griffin’ rather than ‘Dear Sir / Madam / Other’ or ‘To whom it may concern’ which may sound snooty. Phone up to find out the name of the relevant person, if it’s not in the job advert. Don’t try to guess if they’re Mrs, Miss, Ms or Mr.
Get straight to the point in the first 2 lines. Explain why you are writing, including what you’re applying for and highlighting that your CV is attached. This may be all that’s read.
Keep their attention
Remember that you’re not just trying to fill a page with words; your aim is to convince the reader that they want to employ you. Outline your background, relevant achievements or experience, and explain why you want to work for them.
Stick to what’s relevant. Read the job description carefully. If they want a candidate with a good eye for detail who can work under pressure, then why tell them you’re a creative person who loves learning new things?
Keep it short, equivalent to 1 side maximum unless specifically asked for more. Many employers probably won’t read more than about 3 paragraphs.
Don’t use generic statement that could apply to anyone. Every applicant will be ‘a hardworking individual with good team-work and communication skills, keen to contribute to the success of the business’ so say something original, instead.
Don’t use statements such as ‘I believe’, ‘I feel’, ‘I consider myself’. Instead use statements starting with ‘I can’ or ‘I have’, as these sound more convincing. Try to give facts or brief examples.
Tailor your letter specifically to the company and job role. Explain why you want to work for them in particular and why the vacancy interests you.
Don’t be a mercenary: focus on what you have to offer, rather than what’s in it for you. Mentioning their excellent progression scheme will not convince them they need you!
Keep it simple. Use plain English and a friendly (but professional) tone. ‘I look forward to hearing from you soon’ is just as good as ‘I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss further how I can contribute to the success of your business.’ Being economical with your words is more professional than being flowery.
End your letter without ending your career
Sign off with ‘Yours sincerely’ if you know their name or ‘Yours faithfully’ if you don’t. Most employers probably won’t reject you for saying ‘Kind regards’, but anything else is a gamble.
Include your contact details in your letter even if they’re on your CV as the two may get separated. Triple-check that your contact details are correct before sending.
Read your letter out loud to ensure it’s easy to read. Check your spelling and grammar (set spell-check to English UK not English US), but don’t rely on your spell-checker: Costumer service is dressing people in funny outfits. Customer service is not.
Re-read the job description to ensure you have done everything that’s been specifically asked, such as quoting a reference or attaching an application form rather than a CV.
Still need help?
Take a look at your MDXWorks portal (Use your MyUniHub ID and password to log in). It’s packed with great resources to help you write a cover letter, including templates, tools and advice. You may like to start by looking at MDX cover letter builder
If you’re a student or graduate of Middlesex University and you’d like your cover letter reviewed, you can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our friendly team of professionals will provide you with some constructive feedback.
If you found this blog-post helpful, you may also like to read ’10 embarrassing CV mistakes to avoid’.
By Matt Lewis, MDXWorks On-Campus / Online, Middlesex University
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