How to write a cover letter

All too often in the search for a job, people get caught up in the minutiae of the guidelines which dictate resume making: “make sure you appeal to the requirements, customise your skill set in accordance with the criteria, keep it succinct but not too brief”.

While these stipulations do have merit, what is lacking is the human element which ties the resume to an actual person. This is why cover letters are an integral marker in the vetting process, helping to elevate you above the sea of prospective workers.

As the first point of contact that any potential employer comes across, they serve as an opportunity to explain who you are, and how you espouse the values of the company.

Sell yourself

This is not the time to be timid and self-deprecating. After introducing yourself in the first paragraph, explain WHY you are an asset, WHY the company needs you. While briefly alluding to any relevant experience is a good idea, perhaps your qualifications don’t fall within the advertised rubric.

This is your chance to prove you are a fast learner, capable of taking on new challenges and refining your skills.

While that might seem cliché, words have the power to convey sincerity and enthusiasm, so get articulating.

Do your research

How did the business come to fruition? What are their key objectives? Do they have a tight-knit culture of young self-starters, or a sprawling empire of savvy entrepreneurs?

A quick perusal of the company’s ‘About Us’ section of their website is a great way to extrapolate this information.

Now you are in a position to find an angle and customise your cover letter, detailing how you relate to the business on a professional and personal level. Explain what drew you to them, or how their objectives align with your worldview. Your research and lateral thinking will be a major draw-card.

Proofread and perfect

As the adage goes, first impressions last forever. The benefit of having a cover letter is that you have time to cultivate a perfect first impression.

Don’t waste this opportunity with poor grammar, spelling errors or general inconsistencies; this shows a carelessness that is not conducive to what employers want.  Remedy this by having someone read over your letter, or scrutinise it sufficiently yourself.

Good luck!