Step by Step Guide to writing a Cover Letter

A cover letter is a document sent together with your CV to provide additional information on your skills and experience to prove to a potential employer that you are qualified for the job that you are applying for. When writing your cover letter, be sure to take time to personalize it. This is because it is a strong endorsement of your ability to do the job for which you’re applying. It is important to do your research by looking into the role that you are applying for and the company to which you are applying. This enables you to tailor your cover letter accordingly. In addition, it can be helpful to review some cover letter samples so that you have an idea on how everything fits on a page.
A cover letter should not be more than one page. Remember to keep things short. Here is an outline of what should be included in your cover letter:

  • Header:

A cover letter should begin with your contact information (name, address, contact details to include phone number and email) followed by the date and the employer’s contact information (name, position, contact details). If this is an email rather than an actual letter, include your contact information at the end of the letter, after your signature.

  • Salutation:

Most salutations are addressed as “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”. However, finding out who to address the application letter to, be it by doing some research by either calling to ask whom to address the letter to or by asking via email may put you at an advantage. If you manage to find out the person’s name, do not use their first name. Use either “Mr.” or “Ms.” And their last name instead.

  • Subject:

Some job advertisements specify what to put as the subject to your cover letter. This is a line by itself. It states what job/position you are applying for.
(For example, “RE: Application for Supply Chain Manager Position”)

  • Introduction:

Why are you getting in touch?
Your goal here is to capture the reader’s attention.
Also mention where you heard about the job, particularly if you heard about it from a contact associated with the company.

  • Body:

Why are you suitable for the job?
Briefly describe your academic qualifications and one or two achievements relevant to the role. Mention specific qualifications listed in the job posting and explain how you meet those qualifications.
Explain why you are interested in the job and why you make an excellent candidate for the position. Give tangible examples that match your traits where possible.
The body should be in a paragraph or two.

  • Closing:

Here is where you restate how your skills make you a strong fit for the company and/or position. It is also a good time to indicate that you would like the opportunity to interview or discuss employment opportunities. Thank the employer for his/her consideration.

  • Signature:

Sign off your cover letter with “Yours sincerely” (if you know the name of the hiring manager) or “Yours faithfully” (if you don’t) followed by your name.

Formatting and Proof-reading your Cover Letter

The font of your cover letter should match the font you used on your resume and should be simple and easy to read. Basic fonts like Arial, Calibri, Georgia, Verdana, and Times New Roman work well. A font size of 12 is easy to read with a standard margins of 1” on the top, bottom, and left and right sides of the page. Add a space between your address, date, employer’s address, salutation, subject, each paragraph, the closing and your signature. You can reduce the font and margin sizes to keep your document on a single page. Be sure to leave enough white space for your letter to be easy to read.

Remember to edit and proof your cover letter before sending it. Read the letter aloud. It is a good way to catch small typos such as missing words or sentences that sound odd. Always double-check the spelling of your employer’s name as well as the company name.

In addition, use the following tips to make your cover letter outstanding.

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