How to write a cover letter
If you’re applying for a job straight out of university, chances are you don’t even know what a cover letter is – let alone how to write one. Essentially, a cover letter is like a Tinder bio for potential employers. They want to see why you’re fit for the job and you’re going to tell them, in 500 words or less. Here’s how:
Microsoft Word has a couple of cover letter templates available if you’re not sure where to begin. If you’d like to do things your way, use the recommend margins of 1.15” left and right, top 0.65”, and bottom 1”, and Times New Roman or Arial font.
Step 1: Contact details
First things first, fill in your name, address, phone number, email, and Linkedin URL (if you have one). Second, you need to address the letter to the hiring manager of the company you’re applying to like so:
Company phone number
Hiring manager’s email address
Step 2: Greeting
The gold standard for greetings is to directly address the hiring manager by name. The awkward and impersonal openers of your student years – To whom it may concern and Dear Sir or Madam – are not going to cut it any more. If you don’t know who the hiring manager of the company is, address the cover letter to the Human Resources director. If not them, then to the CEO or similar. If you’re at a total loss, simply address it as Dear Hiring Manager. Using their real name will prove that you’ve researched the company and will put you in good stead.
Step 3: Body
Get straight to the point. Don’t use words that you have to look up. Nobody will hire you if you sound like a robot thesaurus. Try something like, “I’m writing to apply for the new and exciting position of [role] at [company].” Why are you excited? Maybe you like the company. Perhaps a role there would be a great opportunity for you. Maybe you just need a job, and you have the right skills for it. That’s fine – just be sure always to highlight the positive, especially that you have the right skills for the job. You need to provide hard evidence that you are qualified for the job. Favour the specific, abandon the general. Don’t write: “I’m a highly motivated team player with great communication skills.” Write: “My strong leadership skills were honed after my election as Deputy Chairperson of the Athletics club in my third year.” Writing a cover letter is like writing an essay, in that you have to back your claims up with evidence. If you don’t have any work experience, look for evidence of your finer qualities in your extracurricular activities or academic performances.
Step 4: Conclusion
Reiterate how excited you are about the position. Thank the director for taking the time to read your application; a little gratitude goes a long way. Sign off with Regards, Cordially, or All the best.