How to Compose a Professional Cover Letter
A cover letter is a short specific letter written to introduce and highlight your knowledge, experience and skills related to the role or job you are applying for. It is the valuable opportunity to make the first impression to the potential employers. In this article, I will explain about the qualities of a professional cover letter, what not to include in a cover letter and a sample structure of a cover letter that you can use next time when you apply for job.
What should a cover letter include?
Before you start writing a cover letter do some research about the company that you want to work for. Demonstrate your enthusiasm and positive attitudes towards them in your letter by specifying some of the interesting facts about the company that you found during your research. Showing that you have knowledge about the company implies that you are applying for a job with interest, and not just randomly.
Include your experiences, knowledge and skills so as to make it clear to the reader that you understand the job requirements and are suitable candidate. Don't forget to emphasize and relate your main achievements to company's requirement. (Refer to the selection criteria advertised for the job to find out what skills and experience your employers are looking for).
End your letter with a request to call you for the interview. Include your address, phone number or email address. See the structure of a cover letter at the end of this article.
Don'ts in cover letter:
- Use abbreviated languages.
- Use quote from company’s website (they already know that).
- Rely on word processing application’s spelling and grammar checker to edit your letter.
- Add information that is irrelevant to the current job.
- Use "Dear sir/madam" or "To whom it may concern".
Quality of a professional cover letter:
- Typed in a neat and consistent format.
- Is one page only.
- Have spaces between paragraphs.
- Used A4 white neat page.
- Have1-2 cm of space on left and right size of the page for reader to write notes.
- Is addressed to the particular employer specifically (you can find name of the employer at the bottom of the selection criteria page. If it is not there, phone the institution to find out the name of the employer).
- Reflects writer's enthusiasm and interest for the job.
- Reflects writer's skills and experience related to the job.
- Focuses on 3-4 selection criteria.
- Provides examples (such as relevant experience, knowledge or skill related to the job).
Remember: If you don’t make enough effort to write an interesting cover letter, you may not be called for the interview, as the employer might think that you are not serious enough for the job.
Read this article to find a great reference for your first job!
Before sending your cover letter:
Before sending your cover letter, make sure to check spelling, grammar and punctuation. The best way is to ask someone to read your final copy and to find out the mistakes. If that is not possible, read louder to yourself and listen for readability and grammatical errors. Don't forget to keep one copy with you so that you can use it as a reference when you go for an interview. Make sure you provide your full name and complete address.
Tips: If you have just finished or are about to finish at your school or university, you can have your cover letter reviewed by the professionals at your school or college. They will be happy to review it for you. Many schools and colleges also organize workshops on writing a cover letter. Attend them to learn more!
Structure of a cover letter:
Contact Person's Name
Contact Person's Position
Re: Name of position or Application for……at…….
Dear Ms.........., (Avoid Dear Sir/Madam)
I am writing to you today to express my interest in ……. position advertised in ......... on ........ (date). I am impressed and attracted in………(what quality of the company attracted you, what opportunities you see in that company and, the main qualities you have that helps you to meet the company’s needs).
Second and/ or Third paragraph
Write about your knowledge (eg; what course you studied), experience (your real work or volunteer work experience, your achievement at university or at work, any particular rewards), skills (social and technical skills such as typing or designing skills) and other training or extra-curricular activities that you have attended that are relevant and suitable to the selection criteria mentioned in the job.
Summarize your main achievements and experiences and relate your quality to their selection criteria.
Give them contact options and thank them for taking time to read your letter. Tell them that you have attached your resume and other important documents.
Print your name.