How to optimise your cover letter

The covering letter is often a job seeker's Achilles ‘heel, mainly because the candidate has spent hours on crafting their CV to make it as perfect as they can, only to produce the covering letter as an afterthought. It is wrongly assumed that the CV will do all the hard work and the covering letter will just play a supporting role.

In this highly competitive market the cover letter may be overlooked, as recruiters have precious little time to go through both the covering letter as well as the CV. The truth is that many hiring managers agree that they do not value the many covering letters they do receive as they are fairly generic and ineffective, and does nothing to stand out to employers.
Avoid submitting covering letter along the lines of;
Dear Mr X,
I wish to apply for the (job title) vacancy, as advertised in (publication, date). Please find enclosed my CV, which I hope you will study with interest.
If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours faithfully,
A Jobseeker
Far more employers value a cover letter than those who won’t, so it’s just important that include a good one
The main objective of the covering letter is to draw attention to your key skills relevant to the job and the CV should expand on them.

What do employers really want to know about you


  • Who you are and what job you want

Indication of the job you're applying for and where you heard about it. Dropping a familiar name, if you have the name of a direct contact or referral, can go a long way to catching the hirer’s attention.

  • What relevant skills you have and how you'll apply them

Outline key aspects of the role job and make direct comparisons with skills and experience you have. "I see that this role demands the ability to reduce costs.

  • Understand what is required of you

Focus on the most important aspects of the role and make sure you relate them directly to recent and relevant experience, however do keep it short.

  • Add any relevant additional skills over and above to enhance your application

Add any supporting information you feel is necessary, such as applied aspects of the role or what additional skills you can bring over and above the job specification.

  • Ensure you create a positive and professional attitude

Your tone should be confident and positive but be mindful as not to come across as arrogant

  • Take time to get to know the business

Find out the name of the person responsible for recruiting for the role if possible and adding some key company information or news and aligning that with your skills will demonstrate that you've done your research.

  • Be concise and to the point

Your cover letter should not exceed one page and certainly no more than four or five paragraphs. It should also be in the same font and style of your CV.

  • Reaffirm your interest in the job

Sum up and reaffirm you interest in the role, the company and the future challenges. Thank the recruiter for taking the time to consider your application.
Remember then to sign off "yours sincerely" opposed to "yours faithfully
Find out more about country specific CVs. Click here

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