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How to write the perfect cover letter

pen friendA cover letter is an invaluable tool when applying for jobs. Many jobseekers make the mistake of applying for a whole range of jobs using the same generic CV, without specifying why their skills and experience relate to the particular role. The cover letter fills in the gaps for prospective employers. The cover letter also lets you break through the monotony of identical CVs and engage with your recruiter.

Here’s how to write the perfect cover letter.


No more ‘Dear Sir/Madam’

First thing’s first: address your cover letter to a real person. It doesn’t take very long to find out who’ll be dealing with your application, either by checking online, or calling the company and asking. This proves that you’ve got a bit of initiative from the off.

Don’t just regurgitate your CV
If you are simply copying the text from the ‘About Me’ section of your CV, you are missing a trick. The point of a cover letter is to add information that won’t fit into the rigid constraints of your CV. Prove that you’ve done your research by adding some interesting references to the company you are applying to. E.g. “As the global leader in your field, I feel your company would be the best place for me to progress my career”. Mention where you saw the job advertised. Also, say why you are applying for the job: ‘I have worked for companies x and y in this sector and I think my contacts and experience will make me a valuable addition to the team,’ for example.

Include contact information
Always include your email address, phone number and postal address on your cover letter. This reasons are twofold: if your cover letter gets separated from your CV, the employer can still get in touch; you want to make it as easy as possible for the employer to contact you.

Keep the word count down
Your cover letter should fit on one A4 page in a size 12 font size. Your recruiter will have to read through many cover letters, sometimes hundreds, so be appreciative of their time and keep yours concise and to the point.

Spell-check. Spell-check. Spell-check

Nothing puts off a prospective employer like sloppy spelling and grammar. Don’t just rely on your word processor to find errors. Read your cover letter through a few times to pick out any mistakes, or get a second pair of eyes to look it over. When you are applying for an accounting role, accuracy and consistency are prerequisites. Show that you have these qualities in abundance by taking care with your cover letter.

Lots of love
Your sign off is just as important as your opener. Use ‘Yours sincerely’ when you know the name of your recruiter, and ‘Yours faithfully’ if not. If you are mailing the cover letter, include your signature to give it that personal touch.

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