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Guide to crafting a convincing cover letter

The cover letter is your first chance to make a good impression on the prospective employer. The letter and the CV form a whole and work in tandem to interest the prospective employer to select you out of dozens of candidate for an interview. One of the worse mistakes a job seeker can make is to write a brief note stating ‘please find enclosed my CV’ as the main content of the cover letter. CVs, by their very nature, are brief and factual. The cover letter provides a more complex picture of you, proving your communication skills and your motivation for seeking the specific position. The letter gives a personal touch to your application that the CV by itself lacks. If the cover letter is not convincing, it is unlikely that the recruiter will even take a cursory glance at your CV.

Work Service recruiters read hundreds of cover letters daily. They are glad to share their tips for writing a letter that will distinguish yours from those landing immediately in the ‘no’ pile.

General suggestions:

  1. Before you write the letter, spend some time in searching the company and the position you are applying for. Be sensitive to their corporate tone and values. This will help your letter `speak` the same language as the company’s hiring manager.
  2. Keep the cover letter to one A4 page.
  3. The letter must target only one specific position at the employer and not all the positions that may be of interest.
  4. When writing the letter, answer the recruiter’s question ‘So, tell me why should I spend the time and resources to meet you?’
  5. Remember that you are sending your ‘voice’, write the way you speak using your own words. Don’t ramble and avoid pretentious clichés. Use action words and don’t use the passive voice.
  6. Write clearly, concisely and to the point, the recruiter will appreciate it.
  7. Print the letter on the same paper used for the CV.
  8. Make the person reading the letter feel special. That this cover letter is addressed to them personally for a specific job and not just another form letter you randomly send out in the hundreds.
  9. Use the spell-check, but then double-check your spelling and grammar with several careful readings. A computer is not intelligent and won’t catch all the mistakes.
  10. If you are sending out the cover letter as an e-mail, first send it to yourself and to a friend. This way you can see if the letter is still properly formatted or if it lands in a spam folder.

 

Cover Letter structure 

1. Follow the conventions of a business letter, in Poland:

 

Date: DD-MM-YYYY

Your First & Last Name

Street Address

Postcode, City

Telephone

E-mail

 

 

Pan / Pani Recipients’ full name

Recipients’ Title

Recipients’ Company / Department

Street address

Post Code, City

 

Ref: (either a reference number or job position)

 

Dear ….., 

 

First paragraph 

 

Second paragraph

 

Third paragraph

 

Fourth paragraph

 

 

Closing

 

 

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

(signature)

Your Name

2. Addressing – if you know the actual name of the recruiter, your application will have a far greater chance of being considered. Use professional sites, such as LinkedIn and Goldenline to find address the letter directly to the right person.
3. First paragraph – states the job you are applying for and where you heard about the vacancy. If a credible person referred you to this contact, mention your associate’s referral in this section.
4. Second Paragraph – without going into the detail provided in the CV, clearly write why the company should be interested in hiring you. Focus on the position and briefly describe your professional and academic qualifications that prove you possess the communication, team working, problem solving, leadership and other skills that are relevant for the job. If you are responding to a detailed the job was advertisadvertisement, explain how your skills and experience meet or exceed the specified qualifications.
5. Third paragraph – here the initial research pays off. Highlight what you can do for the company, not vice versa. Convey your enthusiasm for the specific company and the position. Try to prove that you really are interested in working for this company and show that you know something about its values, market position and other unique characteristics.
6. Fourth paragraph – this is a call for action, that you look forward to the interview. You can also mention when you are available to start work. Remember to thank the person for their time in reading the letter and attached CV.
7. Closing – ‘Yours Sincerely’ and signature as well as your name printed. If you send the documents as an e-mail attachment, you can include a scanned signature.

 

Now that we are confident that the cover letter and CV will get our foot in the door, let’s prepare for the interview.

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