Perfect-cover-letter

The Perfect Cover Letter


When you send a resume, you need to send a short cover letter with it as an introduction and to grab the reader’s attention. It should be no more than a page long and, ideally, it should contain three to four paragraphs.

Now follow these easy steps to create a top cover letter and make sure you check out the sample cover letters at the end of the story. Our samples are a guide only.

Appearance

For hard copies, use the same type of paper and font as your resume. The experts recommend sticking to the plainest style possible – A4 quality white stock and Times New Roman, 11 point.

Place the name of the addressee, their title, company name and address in the left hand corner. Some experts say place your own details in the right hand corner like a traditional letter with the date. CareerOne thinks this could be overkill. Your contact details are on every page of your resume – right? Just make sure you have your name below “Yours sincerely”. Alternatively, you could put your details top and centre – the same way they appear on your resume.

If you are sending your resume via email, include the cover letter and resume as one document. It’s more convenient for the recipient. When posting or hand delivering your resume, you don’t make the recipient open two envelopes so there is no reason to make the online reader open two documents.

Content

Paragraph one of your cover letter should state the reason you are writing to this person – namely that you are interested in working for their team.

Paragraph two explains why the company in question should be interested in you. Too many people write about why they want to work for a particular company or land a particular job. Companies want to know why they should hire you.

Paragraph three should be a call to action, namely a meeting or job interview.

March 18, 2003

The Perfect Cover Letter Continued

All the experts agree that a cover letter should use short sentences and simple language. Companies receive hundreds of letters daily so make sure your letter stands out and is easy to read.Check and double-check spelling and grammar for errors. Make sure you have the recipient’s name and title right even if it means checking with the person’s personal assistant or the company’s main reception desk. Finally, get a friend or family member to then check your letter for mistakes.

Don’t make the common mistake of summarising your resume in the cover letter. See our resume stories for more details.

For those approaching companies cold – in other words you are not applying for a specific job or responding to a job ad – it is a good idea to ask for a “meeting” in your last paragraph.

A “meeting” is less pressure than a formal job interview but all the basic rules of presentation, eye contact etc still apply (see our stories on job interviews for tips). Companies will meet with interesting candidates even when they don’t have a job on offer right away.

Cover letters are essentially sales letters so they must be written for the customer – the prospective employer – and not be based just on what you want. Stress what you can do for the company you would like to work for – not vice versa.

Finally, when preparing a hard copy, ensure your resume is on white A4 paper – the same as your resume – and that you use the same typeface and font size. Again, keep it simple. No fancy fonts or coloured paper.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to www.careerone.com.au for more career related articles. Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing: editor@careerone.com.au

March 18, 2003