How to write the perfect Cover Letter

“You have to be burning with ‘an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.’ If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” – Steve Jobs

When you apply for a job, the cover letter is the first thing that is read. No matter how extensive or impressive your CV is, if someone spots two typos you can be thrown on the maybe or even no way pile, just like that.

For that reason we have put together a list of do’s and don’t’s and some tips on how to write a proper cover letter.

We hope it helps!

Let’s cover the basics first:

What is a cover letter?

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to a prospective employer, show that you have met the key criteria for the role and demonstrate your communication skills. The overall aim is to make them want to look at your CV and invite you in to meet them.

The basic principles of the covering letter are that:

  • You should use traditional header, date and addressee formula
  • Reference the position you are applying for
  • 3-4 paragraphs and 3⁄4 page only
  • Standard salutations

Why do companies use them?

In general companies are looking for:

  • A genuine understanding and commitment to the area you are applying to
  • A genuine understanding and commitment of them as a company
  • Strong written communication skills
  • Evidence that you meet the key criteria of the role

Why they are useful for you

In general they are useful to you because:

  • You can really tailor your experience to best fit this particular company and role, making links between their criteria and your experience
  • You can explain any spaces in your CV or changes in your career direction from your CV; you can tell your story in the most appropriate way
  • You can impress them with the research you have carried out
  • You can highlight your motivation and commitment for the role and company
  • You can provide other information, for example availability for interview

Now lets tackle the more complicated stuff,

How to write a cover letter

Make sure your cover letter is linked to the reader’s needs (i.e. what they need to know) and not yours. Sometimes the company you are applying to will ask for specific things to be covered in the letter so make sure you follow any requirements they set out.

In general you should structure your covering letter along the following lines:

  • Who you are, what you want, who you know: Your initial paragraph should introduce yourself and explain the opportunity you are looking for. You should also include here any contacts you have within the firm you are applying to
  • How you meet the reader’s criteria: Your next paragraph should focus on how your skills and experience match the criteria of the role, and what your key accomplishments and achievements are. When you talk about your skills you will need to show examples to demonstrate these and also ensure they are focused to what the firm is looking for
  • Differentiating the organisation/role: Focus on what differentiates the organisation/role and again link this with your key skills, expertise and networks. Research on the website is crucial for this and avoid generic terms, i.e. “x is a leading consultancy, x is one of the Big 4” Career & Professional Development Service
  •    Closing paragraph: Outline what will happen next, what is attached or enclosed and thank the reader for their time

Who you are, what you want, who you know

Get to the point straight away here. Position yourself, and your expertise upfront.

  •    I am currently studying for my MBA at Imperial College Business School, and wish to apply for the position of Senior Strategy Consultant as advertised on your website
  •    I recently met with Alex Ham, a consultant at Heart Consulting and he recommended that I would be a good fit within your Strategy Consulting practice
  •    I am writing to apply for the Strategy Consulting position at Heart Consulting. I believe that my internship in the Financial Services industry, combined with the analytical skills I have developed during my MSc Management degree make me a strong candidate for your group.

How you meet the reader’s criteria

  • Each and every cover letter you write should be tailored to that particular role and company. You need to highlight:
  • You understand what the role requires
  • You can demonstrate how you have the skills/experience that match
  • You can provide an example to prove this

Differentiating the organisation/role

To differentiate the organisation it is vital that you do your research. You need to make it as specific as possible to show that you really know how to differentiate the company. Try to avoid generic statements that could be true of any company (i.e. Heart is a top Management Consultancy).

Also make your statements personal to you. So don’t just state facts – outline why they are important in informing your career choice.

Closing paragraph

Here you want to briefly sign off from your letter outlining what you want to happen next.

  •    I enclose my CV for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you in due courseI feel my experience and approach would lend itself well to the position in your Strategy
  •    Consulting team and I am keen to meet the challenge of the role. I look forward to hearing from you.
  •    I look forward to hearing from you and discussing this position in more detail. Thank you for your time.
  •    Please find my CV attached for your review. I look forward to discussing my application with you further and outlining how I can best contribute my skills and experience to benefit Heart Consulting

For more help, check out our top 10 tips on the perfect cover letter

Hope it helps!

For more information, click here


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