How to write a convincing cover letter

02/04/2014

man with orange folder and laptopIf you’ve mastered the art of writing an effective CV, you might think you’ve nailed the job application process. However, our career coaches will advise you that a well-written, convincing cover letter will supplement a winning CV and often improve your chances of being considered for a role. It might have been some time since you last had to write a cover letter, so perhaps now would be a good time to brush up on those skills!

Cover letters allow you to write in much larger chunks than in your CV, so they provide a great opportunity to establish your writing style and speak passionately about the application and your experience. We’ve put together a list of quick tips to help you write a convincing cover letter.

Physical or digital?

First off, are you writing your cover letter as an email or do you plan to print it off and send a physical letter? This will significantly affect the format of your cover letter. Physical letters should feature the address of the sender in the top right of the letter, and where you’re sending it to in the top left. Don’t forget to include the date underneath your address. When ending a physical letter, sign it and print your name underneath the signature.

If you’re sending an email cover letter, you don’t need to include your address at all. Attach your CV and write the letter in the body of the email. Always include a clear subject line that includes the job reference number and/or job title. Start your email with “Dear_______” unless you have any previous email correspondence with the company and they used a different greeting. End the email with your name, followed by your contact details (phone number and email address at the very least).

Content

The aim of your cover letter is to contextualise your CV. You should always start the body of your cover letter with a sentence confirming which role you’re applying for and from where/whom you found out about it. Next, mention why you’re interested in the role, especially with that company in particular. The more research you’re able to do, the better. Your next paragraph should highlight your skills and achievements and what you think you can achieve in the role – with reference to the specific job requirements. Interpret your CV, don’t just repeat your entire work history. Write briefly about your USPs, end with a thank you and state that you look forward to hearing from them soon.

Finishing touches

Overall, it’s best to keep your cover letter short – between half a page and one page of A4 paper. Once you’re happy with your cover letter, get a friend or family member to read it through for you to identify any errors or sections that read awkwardly. Cover letters should be tailored in exactly the same way that CVs should.

Writing a good cover letter may seem like a tedious task, but you’ll become adept at it in no time. A concise, convincing cover letter will improve your job prospects and give you a great chance of getting an interview. If you would like more job hunting advice, you might be interested in talking to one of Renovo’s career coaches.

Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email info@renovo.uk.com

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