A cover letter is the most essential component of any job application because it is the first document perused by the employer. Your cover letter needs to be written so that it attracts the employer’s attention and gives you a competitive advantage over other applicants. To be professional, a cover letter should follow the basic format of any business letter and should address three key points, which are:
- Your purpose for writing;
- What you can offer the organisation; and
- How you intend to follow up on your application’s progress.
The first paragraph should give the employer a clear reason as to why you are writing the cover letter. For example, you may be responding to a job advertisement that you came across, therefore state where you saw the advertisement and briefly summarise what attracts you to the position and how your experience and knowledge are aligned with the position’s required qualifications. Also, express your enthusiasm for the position and what appeals to you about the organisation you are applying to, this may be that they are a leading organisation in that specific industry or they may be voted as an employer of choice. It is important to demonstrate to the employer that you have done your research about the company.
The second paragraph of your cover letter is your opportunity to present your credentials and to illustrate to the employer that you have the experience and knowledge required to make the role you are applying for a success. Include details of your attributes and strengths and make sure they are aligned with the attributes mentioned in the job description as pre-requisites for the position. Use this paragraph to emphasise the skills and knowledge you can bring to the organisation, rather than what benefits the organisation can provide you.
The third paragraph should be your conclusion to the cover letter. Include one or two sentences reiterating your interest in the position and then conclude by telling the employer how they can contact you by providing your phone number and your email address. Another alternative is to state that you will contact the employer to arrange an appointment at a mutually agreeable time. Some employers prohibit this but if not prohibited, it can be a good advantage because it will at least confirm that the employer has received your application and it will force them to take notice of you. You may also elect to include a sentence letting the employer know that you can provide reference details upon request.
For an extra professional touch, address the cover letter to a person. Generally you can address it to the person listed as the contact on the job description; if no name is given address the cover letter to the company. A cover letter is impretaive to make an immdeiate impression on the employer. f the cover letter is not appealing to the employer, your resume might not even be considered further.