Follow these basic yet very important guidelines:
- Write a new cover letter for every application. You don’t necessarily need to create a new letter from scratch, what you can do is create a standard template and use this to rewrite/tweak for each new application especially if you’re applying for the same type of positions. However, if you’re applying for completely different jobs, for example a sales position versus an accountant’s role, you would need to create two completely different style cover letters.
- A cover letter should contain a minimum of 3 paragraphs (introduction, body and conclusion); maximum of 5 paragraphs (introduction, 1-3 for the body, and a conclusion).
- Ideally, the cover letter should not be longer than 1 page in length. I have written hundreds of cover letters and only in two instances have I had difficulty reducing two client’s letters to one page. I am a concise writer in general, and in these two instances, I didn’t want to remove any further information from the letters, so I used this very effective technique…I reduced the font size a notch in both cover letters; reducing one from Times New Roman 12pt to 11.5pt and the other down to 11pt. But remember, careful with reducing font size, I wouldn’t go less than 11pt if using Times New Roman font.
- Keep sentences short and to the point, write only pertinent information – do not waffle. Shorter, sharper sentences make for better impact. Also, reduces the loss of concentration on the part of the reader. Remember, short sentences pack a punch.
- Do not state information in the cover letter that can be found in your resume or visa versa; paraphrase the information, don’t just simply copy and paste.
- Add a sentence or two about why this employer and the position is right for you. This will add value, shows you are interested, and that you’ve done a little research into the company. Research the company’s mission statement and goals and incorporate a point or two (paraphrased of course) that tie in with your value system.
- State your achievements, skills and attributes that set you apart from all other applicants. Remember, the cover letter is a key selling tool. Do not shy away from expressing confidence in yourself. Lacking in confidence and not being able to express it (in written form or verbally) is a key leading contribution to the rejection of applicants.
- You can use bullet points, but not excessively when listing skills, attributes, and so forth.
- Double check for errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
- Never ever criticise your current or previous employer(s).
- Provide all your contact details including e-mail and available contact times.
- Consistency is paramount across the board; ensure you use the same font when developing your resume as that used in the cover letter.
If you have any specific questions relating to cover letter creation that you would like answered, or require further clarification on any of the above points, please do not hesitate to post a comment. Alternatively, go back to my Contacts webpage and send me an email.
Remember, I’m here to help market you!