Aaaaaaah! The mystery of cover letters....! The mean to get that interview! That one chance to sell yourself to an employer and an organisation that might change your life forever!!! What makes that small piece of “art” so special? And what makes it stand out??
I actually had that discussion - not too long ago - with a good friend of mine who asked for my help, since I have a lot of experience in writing cover letters and CVs. And so I decided to publicise my advice on how to write a professional cover letter!
Well, I understand that there are different styles of writing a cover letter, while many professionals will give different advice on how to structure it and what to include. Albeit, there are certain standards that are common in any structural scenario and these are what I will be talking about!
First of all, you need to create a clear structure. Start with a short introduction about yourself and how you found out about the position advertised. Next paragraph or two should be a short description of relevant experience and/or of education. After that you should dedicate a small paragraph again on what interests you in the organisation you’re applying for and why you’d be a suitable candidate (aka special skills and attributes you can put in use in the position). Finally, you are best to express your enthusiasm about the available position and use the good old “call to action” for them to invite you for an interview and thank the employer for the time he/she took to review your application. Always sign with the typical “Yours faithfully”, “Sincerely”, “Regards” etc.
All the aforementioned is good, however, make sure you start with “Dear ...” and use the name of the employer hiring the staff. It shows you have done your homework and it’s more personal/less generic. If the name is undisclosed and you have no means of finding it, I prefer to use the typical “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” - but I assume you already know that!
Next piece of advice, yet most important. CONNECTING STRUCTURE - CLEAR LANGUAGE - NO MORE THAN 500-550 WORDS. Make sure you have no spelling or grammar mistakes! Keep it short! In your attempt to sound professional and eloquent, don’t use random words you find on thesaurus anywhere! Make sure you make sense! You would rather use simpler-everyday vocabulary, than make it sound like a failed google translate from a foreign language!!! Hah! And finally, keep you sentences short as well. A sentence of 4 lines is not acceptable and I am sure the employer a) won’t understand what you mean and b) will find it unprofessional.
BE CONCISE!!! Employers have to review hundreds of CVs everyday and if they see something too long and boring, chances are your application will end up in the bin regardless of your experience. Your cover letter is your chance to make the employer see someone interesting, strong willed and talented. And with that small bio you can prove you are the best choice! You sell yourself like you would an idea or product to a client! And if they don’t want it you don’t get your bonus!
Hope this helps!