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Writing Cover Letters 101

If you’re applying for a job, 9 times out of 10 you will be asked to provide a cover letter and a CV. Your cover letter gives you the opportunity to stand out and convince the recruiter why you are the perfect person for the role. But cover letters are often widely undervalued as many of us just don’t know where to begin with them.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a professional document that usually accompanies a CV and is provided to employers by candidates. A cover letter is an extension of your CV and typically includes more detailed information regarding experience and/or qualifications that outline why you are a good fit for the role you are applying for.

What should be included in a cover letter?

What should be included in a cover letter varies depending on the industry you work in and the role you are applying for. However, there are some basics that should always be included:

  • Your contact details (your name, address, phone number)
  • The date (when you are writing your cover letter)
  • The recipients details (name and company address – if you have it)
  • Where you found the vacancy, this isn’t a necessity but it is always useful to let the hiring manager know where you came across the vacancy.

Why is a cover letter important?

A cover letter is important as it gives you the opportunity to expand or provide more relevant detailed information on why you are suitable for the role you are applying for.

It allows the employer to learn a bit more about you, your personality, what you want from the job and what you will be able to bring to the job.

How long should a cover letter be?

Ideally your cover letter shouldn’t be any longer than one side of an A4 page. Keep in mind, some jobs receive hundreds of applicants, if you’re cover letter is too long it is unlikely the employer will read the whole thing.

Your cover letter should be around half a page to a full page in length, but bear in mind it should still be short, sweet and relevant, employers don’t want your life story, simply more information than your CV.

Do I need a cover letter?

Yes. Most jobs will actually ask you to submit a cover letter along with your CV, but even if it is not requested it is always best to submit one. A cover letter may be the thing that sways the employer into interviewing you over another candidate, so if you don’t provide one, if they are on the fence about interviewing you, there may not be enough information to persuade them.

Can I use a cover letter template?

Yes, using a cover letter template ensures you have a good layout that is well-formatted and professional looking.

Can I use the same cover letter for different jobs?

Although most of the information in your cover letter may be applicable to different jobs, you should always update certain aspects of your cover letter for each individual role. For example, amending the details of who you are sending the cover letter to, and if you have information on why your experience is relevant, you should always check that it is relevant for each role and doesn’t come across very generic.

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