A cover letter should accompany and compliment any resume or job application submitted. The cover letter is the first item looked at by the employer in a job application; it is looked at before the resume and the accompanying documents. As a result, it is essential that the cover letter is written with the aim of drawing the employer’s attention and making your application stand out amongst the other applications submitted.
The purpose of a cover letter is to tell the employer who you are and it should highlight your key attributes, work experiences and professional and academic achievements. The cover letter should make the employer want to know more about you by going to your resume, where you will have in detail your qualifications. The key is to make your cover letter so good that the employer wants to read your resume. An employer will not waste their time reading a resume if the cover letter is not compelling enough.
A cover letter should be personalised, so ensure that it is addressed to the person advertising the job or to the company if an individual is not mentioned on the job description. Do not send out a generic cover letter, it will just be put aside and ignored, if need be contact the company to find out more details about the job and ask who the contact person is, so you can address the cover letter to the appropriate person.
Since your cover letter is the first point of contact between you and the employer you need to ensure that it demonstrates to the employer that you understand the requirements of the job you are applying for, and your skills and qualifications are what the employer is looking for. The attributes that you include in your cover letter should be inline with the attributes mentioned in the job description as a pre-requisite for the position. It is essential that you display a high level of enthusiasm towards the position and the company you are applying to. Include an explanation of what appeals to you about the company as this will demonstrate to the employer that you have done your research showing initiative, which maybe your competitive advantage over the other applicants.
The cover letter is your opportunity to show case yourself as the perfect candidate for the position. Keep in mind that your application with be compared to the applications submitted by other applicants who are generally of the same level of knowledge and expertise as yourself, so it is essential to give your cover letter an edge over the other applicants. Ensure that your cover letter is written specifically for the job being applied for and make your cover letter concise and to the point; it should not be more than one page long. Your concluding sentence in your cover letter should clearly tell the employer how they can contact you by including your phone number and email address.