Picture the scene; you’ve found a great-sounding vacancy, you’ve tailored your CV to the role, you’ve written up a pretty succinct cover email and you’re just about to send your application off when you spot something at the bottom of the job advert which stops you in your tracks… the employer has requested a cover letter.
You start to panic. A cover letter?! Is that really necessary?! And what do you even put in a cover letter?!
Before you start having palpitations it’s time to take a deep breath and relax. A cover letter is a common part of job applications because it can help the employer to learn a bit more about who you are as a candidate and why you’re applying for the job… and I’ll let you in on a secret; they’re not that difficult to write!
Without further ado; here are the five things you need to include in every cover letter.
With a cover letter, the clue’s in the name – it’s a letter so you need to format it as such. This means including your address in the top right and your name and additional contact details (eg. email address, phone number and even links to your social media profiles) at the bottom.
OK, so some people might disagree that you need to put your address on there but I think you should for two reasons. 1. A lot of employers are old-school – they want to see that you know how to (and can!) write a simple letter. And 2. The employer’s probably going to Google you anyway (other search engines are available!) so it’s probably best to be upfront about your location from the start (don’t forget – if you are planning on relocating you can mention that in the cover letter itself).
Still not convinced you need your address on there? That’s fine – but you still need to follow the proper formatting protocol for your letter.
The Name Of The Role & Company You’re Applying To:
At the start of your cover letter it’s always a good idea to mention what job it is you’re applying for and who with. Why? Because sometimes hiring managers can be recruiting for multiple jobs and even multiple companies at the same time – so by simply mentioning the job title and company in your cover letter you’re not only making their life a little bit easier, but also making it clear which particular role you’re interested in.
Your Passion For The Industry:
Another thing you need to include is your passion for the industry you’re applying to work in, particularly if it’s a really competitive industry and you’re right at the start of your career. This is important because employers want to take on new members of staff who are enthusiastic and have a genuine interest and passion in the industry they work with. Why? Because these are the employees that work hard because they actually want to be there.
If you don’t express this passion, you risk being overlooked and being outshone by another candidate who has!
Why You’re A Good Fit For The Role:
We’ve said it before and I’m sure we’ll say it again – your cover letter is there to bridge the gap between your CV and the job advert – so you need to make sure it does just that! In your cover letter you need to try and explain why you’re the best candidate for the role and why the employer should give you a shot. OK, so I’m not suggesting you write an essay – but I am saying that you should address some of the key skills and experience mentioned in the job description and explain how and why you tick the boxes.
If you can make it perfectly clear in your cover letter why you’re a good candidate for the role, it’ll be extremely difficult for the employer not to look at your CV!
Why You Want To Work For That Company:
In addition to expressing your passion for the industry and explaining why you’re a good fit for the role, it’s also a good idea to explain why you want to work for that company in particular. Now, there are two reasons for this. Firstly; it demonstrates that you’ve done your research and that you’re not just applying for this job randomly. And secondly; it shows that you have a good understanding of who they are as a company and how you’d fit in – something which is really important when it comes to smaller agencies and brands. Oh, and also sweet talking the company in question is never going to hurt when you’re applying for a job….
Anything Else They Ask For:
OK, so I know I promised just five things – but I didn’t want to miss this one out! A lot of the time, if you’re applying for a job with a direct employer, they’ll probably ask for a cover letter and mention a few things they want you to include, such as salary expectations and notice period. If this is the case, you need to be sure to include everything they’ve asked for in your cover letter. If you don’t, you risk annoying the employer from the offset – and it might also suggest to the employer that you’re incapable of following simple instructions…