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Want to write the perfect cover letter?

29th Sep 2017

A cover letter is the perfect accompaniment to your CV and if done right can be the difference between success and failure. It’s the first thing an employer will see and the perfect opportunity to sell yourself. In fact, more and more employers are basing their decision to short list for interview on cover letters.

By approaching the cover letter in a structured manner, you can be clear and concise about why you’re best suited for the job. Remember that presentation can reflect strongly or poorly on you. The covering letter, like the CV, informs your prospective employer's first impressions of you.  You should make sure that the Cover Letter is not just another version of your CV.

Quick Tip

Try not to use pre-populated cover letters. These are helpful as a starting point, but try to set yourself apart from your competitors and make your cover letter personal.

Step 1: Start your letter with an address

More specifically, your address (and contact details) in the top right-hand corner. After that, start the letter with the employer's name and address. Try to find out exactly who will be dealing with applications so you can address them directly for a more personal touch. You can find this out either on their website, or by simply calling them to ask. It gives the letter a much more personal touch if it's addressed to a real person rather than a generic sir/madam.

It's often difficult to know how to open a cover letter. Keep it simple, start by telling them exactly what you want.  Make sure it's clear what position you're applying for. 

For example:

"I am writing to you regarding the 'web designer' placement that was recently advertised on www.e-placementscotland.com, and would like for you to consider my application for this position"

Step 2: Explain why you would like the job

Once you've broken the ice, it's time to make it clear what exactly it is about the job that attracted you. Why do you want the job?

Again, the key is to deal in specifics. Although your main motivation may be "for the money" or some such, it's better to try and pick one aspect of the job that particularly appeals to you and explain why.

"As I am looking to pursue a career in web design, I have reviewed your company online and feel that they have the ethos that I am looking for and would offer the right environment for me to further my career"
 

Step 3: Highlight what skills you have to offer

Now that your reader knows the job is right for you, it's time to move on and show that you are right for the job.

It’s time to highlight your strengths and qualifications that are directly relevant to the position. If there are specific requirements that are mentioned in the job description, use these terms when describing yourself.

You may have touched upon some of this in your CV, but here you have room to elaborate fully. Try not to repeat too much of your CV though. After all, this is supposed to be read in conjunction with your CV, and a lot of crossover will come across as sloppy.

"I feel that I am good for this position as I have .net experience as outlined in the job advert."  

You can use your examples to bring in additional skills that may not be directly relevant. Working in things such as IT skills, or your organisational skills is a good idea.

Try to offer the reader something unique and beneficial. Use interesting examples that cast you in a separate light to others applying for the position.
 

Step 4: Finish your letter in a positive way

Make the employer remember you!

Finish off by stating clearly when you are available for interview. If there is no set starting date, it is a good idea to make a note of the earliest you can begin working.

You should also welcome the prospective employer to contact you if they need any further information. They should have your contact details from the top of the letter, and on your CV. Sign off and, if you are printing the letter out rather than emailing it, sign it for an added level of professionalism.

Make sure you think about what you want to say!

Don’t forget we are happy to check over your cover letters before you apply so if you would like us to do this for you please contact Nicola Taylor our Candidate Matching Co-ordinator via email:

Nicola.taylor@scotlandis.com

 

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