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How to write a successful cover letter

Updated on June 27, 2013

So you’ve written your resume, you’re happy with it, now it’s time to write a cover letter. A cover letter is commonly referred to as an “application letter” and it goes alongside your resume. The point of a cover letter is to let your employer know why you’re applying for your position and why he/she should hire you over hundreds of thousands of other applicants. No pressure!


What do I need to know before I start writing my cover letter?

Research, research, research! It’s difficult to write a convincing cover letter when you don’t know what you’re talking about, or whom you’re writing to. You should know the company inside out as if you’re already working there. Research the company and particularly your position and what is expected from you.

How do I set up my cover letter?

Start with whom you're writing to. Include their full name and/or title. If you cannot find this, simply use “Dear Hiring Manager” or use the company’s name instead.

Your first paragraph is crucial. Clearly state what position you’re applying for - this is usually a good opening line. Demonstrate your interest for the company. Show you’ve done your research, highlight what kind of person the employer is looking for and why you are that person. Why should the employer hire you?

Your second and third paragraph should build on your first. Demonstrate your skills and more importantly, show what you can do for the employer.

Conclude by thanking your employer for their time and considering you for the position. Remember to provide your contact information such as an email and mobile phone number.

Key things to remember

Avoid repetition – A cover letter is not a replica of your resume. What you’ve said in your resume, avoid saying it again in your cover letter.

Be Professional – Avoid silly spelling mistakes and grammar errors. Your writing should be easy to read and understand for your employer. Have respect for yourself; don’t sound stupid when you don’t have to.

Be upbeat – Express your interest! If you can’t write down at least 2-3 reasons why you want to work for the company, why are you applying for the job in the first place?

Keep it short – If your cover letter is longer than a page – you’ve written too much. As a rule of thumb, if it doesn’t answer the question “Why should we hire you?” it’s not relevant.

Proof Read – As with your resume, read it yourself. Give someone else to read, and improve your letter based on his/her feedback. Every little bit helps!

What if I sent my cover letter and resume but have not received a reply in over a month?

There are 2 reasons to this. Either you didn’t get accepted, or the employer is still in the selection process. Either way, it’s a good idea to follow up with another copy of your resume and cover letter. Why? This is a chance to update your existing information. It shows you’re interested in the company. More importantly however, it shows you are persistent in pursuing your goals. It might just get you considered for an interview.


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