Cover Letter Essentials

5 essential cover letter tips

10/07/2014BY: Tracey Mesken

​Cover letters are still considered a vital part of a formal job application and should be approached accordingly. It is generally the first point of contact you will have with a prospective employer, and plays an important role in highlighting to them the key skills and competencies that make you a strong candidate for the job.

The goal of you cover letter is to complement, not replicate your resume. A quality cover letter when structured well and succinctly written, should provide an interesting summary of your achievements and encourage an employer to continue reading your resume.

Here are a few essential tips to writing a strong cover letter.

1. Structure the cover letter logically

Start by introducing yourself, the position you are applying for and in a few sentences, clearly explain why you are interested in the specific role or company for which you are applying. An employer doesn’t want to see a generic cover letter. Use the body of the cover letter to demonstrate the suitability of your background to the experience and skills that the position requires, and succinctly identify your most relevant strengths and accomplishments. Close out your cover letter with a strong finish by thanking the reader for their time and consideration, and include your contact information. Keep in mind that your email address (and your phone voicemail message) should be professional.

2. Know the position you are applying for

Before you even start writing your cover letter, read through the position description for the job so you understand the requirements well. While you shouldn’t regurgitate the position description requirements word-for-word, it will be useful to pick out the essential ones and demonstrate how your particular skills and experiences will help you meet them.

3. Dot the i’s and cross the t’s

A surefire way to have your resume ignored completely, is by failing to pay attention to the most basic of details. Clearly read through the application instructions and make sure your cover letter addresses everything that has been asked for. When writing out multiple job applications, mistakes tend to happen, so check that you have included the correct company name, addressed the right person and referred to the correct role.

4. Keep it succinct

Remember that a cover letter should only be a summary of the information you put in your resume, so keep it brief and no longer than a page. Use the limited space more efficiently - and also make it easier for an employer to scan through your qualifications - by listing them under bullets. Keep your cover letter format consistent by using the same font and style used in your resume. For easy readability, the generally recommend font is Arial (font size 11).

5. Language, Spelling, Grammar

Your cover letter is the first opportunity you have to make a good impression and set the right tone, so take the time to consider the language you use. Using buzzwords, acronyms or jargon can make your cover letter seem like more fluff and less substance, so keep the language simple and to the point. And as with your resume, triple check that the grammar, punctuation and spelling used in your cover letter is of the highest standard.

Follow these basic principles and you will have a cover letter that gets you noticed.