5 steps to writing a successful cover letter

woman receiving advice on writing a cover letter

A well written cover letter can be just as important when looking for a job as your CV.

Employers will often spend less than a minute looking at job applications and your cover letter is an opportunity to stand out against other applicants.

Thoroughly researching your prospective employer, taking the time to personalise your cover letter and ensuring that its content is valuable to the hiring manager can all make a critical difference. 

Knowledge is key

In your cover letter you are able to expand on what you know about the company. Research the company, and the job you are applying for, prior to writing your letter and incorporate some of that information into your letter.

"Researching a company in advance demonstrates initiative and shows that you are genuinely interested in what a company does," said Lucy Bisset, Associate Director of Secretarial and Support Recruitment at Robert Walters.

"It will also help you establish what the company's tone and style are and incorporate terminology that is consistent with the company." 

Address your letter

The last thing you want is your letter and CV to go to the wrong person, or to nobody at all. If you are applying for a job advert the person to apply to should be listed.

In this case, always address your letter to that person. If no specific person is listed, you can address it to the Manager or Supervisor of the department you are applying to.

Don’t just copy your CV

Your cover letter is a chance to expand on your CV. You don’t just want to list your qualifications and experience, instead opt for comments on how you can directly add value to the company.

“One great way to show how you will bring value to a company is by giving tangible examples of work you’ve done which directly relates to the job requirements," Lucy continued.

"Give two or three sentences explaining the tasks, how you were able to complete them and the benefit to your employer."

Keep it short

Almost half of employers prefer a cover letter which is about half a page in length, too short and it can look like you didn't put much effort into it and too long may lose the readers' interest.

“We find the best cover letters tend to be three paragraphs, or half a page, at the most."

"This should give you enough time to sell yourself to the company without giving long and unnecessary information,” Lucy added.

Have someone proof read your letter

Common, easy mistakes can make the difference when an employer is deciding between two candidates. Once you have written your cover letter, have someone proof read it to catch any mistakes.

Make sure the spelling and grammar are correct and then sense check the letter a final time making sure the sentences are concise.

Or if you have a friend looking for a new job, why not be rewarded for recommending Robert Walters? Learn more about our excellent referral scheme and refer your friend today.

Additionally, find out how much you're worth with the Robert Walters Salary Survey. 

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