The cover letter is sent together with your resume and is a presentation of yourself where you have the chance to tell why you should get the job. The purpose of a cover letter is to give the recruiter a picture of how you are as a person. Below are some tips on both what the letter should contain, but also what you should avoid in order for your cover letter to be as good as possible.
How to structure the letter:
Many starts by writing about themselves, but do not do that. You only have a few seconds to get the recruiter curious enough to read on. Therefore, you should start with what job you are applying for and why you would be suitable for the position. The recruiter wants to know why you want this particular position at this particular company.
Second and third paragraphs
Here you will tell the reader about yourself and your past experiences and skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Make sure not to repeat the content of your resume but include what cannot be read in the resume. Do not just line up your skills, rather give examples of situations when you have used those skills. In this part of the cover letter you should also make sure you include what you would contribute in the role and to the company.
When you get tot the end of the letter, you should end it by thanking the reader for taking the time to read your letter. Then you should make a call to action. It may be that you write that you look forward to a personal meeting to tell the recruiter more about you and what you can contribute with. You can also write that the recruiter will hear from you within a stated timeframe. Finish the letter with ‘Sincerely’ and then write your name.
Now when you know what the structure should look like, here are some other tips that can help you write a really good cover letter:
Customize the letter to the job you are looking for
A common mistake is to use the same personal letter for several positions you are applying for. It is important that you customize the letter to each job opening and you need to clearly describe why you are suitable for that position. To write that it seems fun or exciting is not enough. Put yourself in the recruiter’s perspective and ask yourself why the company should hire you? Then focus on answering that question in the letter by linking your relevant characteristics and past experiences. One tip is to match your relevant characteristics and experiences with what is being sought in the advertisement for the job.
Base your letter on the job advertisement
If there is a job ad for the job you are applying for – base your content in your letter on the ad. For many positions, the company in question has devised a profile that they are looking for and which is often described in the advertisement. Therefore, you can use the information in the ad and benefit from knowing what the company is looking for. It is favorable if you read the ad several times. When you then start writing, you use the ad as a reference to match your relevant characteristics and experiences with what is being sought for the position.
The layout of the letter
Keep in mind that writing should not be longer than an A4 page, but preferably shorter. The letter should be airy and easy to understand, and it can be structured with subheadings to make it easier for the reader to navigate.
When you have finished writing your cover letter, it may be a good idea to put it away for some time before coming back and read it again. Read it out loud to yourself to see the flow in your text. It may also be a good idea to ask someone else to read through your letter and come with suggestions of improvement or come up with other features and characteristics you should highlight. They may of course also help you to find any spelling mistakes.
Avoid the following
Do not tell your life story and write about negative experiences in your cover letter. Remember to keep a positive and professional tone in your letter. But do not be too brisk and write a bunch of clichés either. The letter should arouse the recruiter’s interest, so do not tell everything about you in the letter. The trick is to tell to arouse interest but to save the details for the interview.
Submit the document as PDF
Submitting your cover letter and resume as a PDF file is important for two reasons. Firstly, not all computers or programs can open the writing program you used to write your application. It is very unfortunate to miss a chance to get an interview after you have spent a lot of time on your application because the recruiter cannot open your documents. Second, your document may be formatted differently on another computer and your application may look cluttered. This means that the recruiter may leave your application because it may be difficult to read.