Writing a Professional Cover Letter

A Cover Letter is a media through which you will establish a personal connection with a potential employer. It is typically the first introduction and therefore it is essential to make a good impression. Sending a well written cover letter with a supportive CV will greatly enhance your application and make a winning impression.
Before Writing Your Cover Letter
  • How is the Cover Letter to be communicated? – i.e. will it be emailed, posted or uploaded or inserted via a web site. If posted or emailed – it should be a formal letter (i.e. with your address on the top right hand side and the Company address below to the left. If inserted in a field on a Web site – then the address is not required as the CV will be linked. However, you may wish to include your phone number in the closing paragraph if your application is direct with the Company. If going through a recruitment agency – the Company will typically liaise with the agency recruiter to follow up.
  • What do I know about the Company? – Check Linked and wider web. Research the Company web site – view the “About us”, “Team”, “Career” sections. A Company’s web site can reflect their image and cultural values (vision, beliefs, principals…) This may help in setting the tone of your letter – you may wish to adapt a highly formal approach or a more relaxed/simple letter.
  • Who is the letter to be addressed to? - If you are unsure of the recipient of the letter – try and ascertain. It may state on the job advert – “please email the HR Manager..”. Try and ascertain who they are -sometimes, you can ascertain from the Company’s website, Linkedin or job posting or you could call the Company and ask for the name – just explain that you are sending a letter to the HR Manager and you would like to personalise. It shows initiative.
  • Format? We recommend 3 paragraphs but you can write more – just make sure its relevant!
Remember A good Cover Letter should:
  • Entice the Reader to review your CV.
  • Create a good impression – be neat and easy to read.
  • Not contain undefined abbreviations and acronyms – remember the person reading the Cover Letter may not be knowledgeable of the role but merely doing first pass screening.
  • Be formal - regardless if you know the recipient, you have no idea who else in theorganisation will read it.
  • Be critiqued for spelling, grammar. Read out loud and let friends and family review – ask them for feedback on clarity, effectiveness, and readability. Remember, it is typically a total stranger reading your Cover Letter!
Ready to write? - Try this simple 4 step format below:
  • Step 1 Formalities
    • Company address if required – see above
    • Your full address – top right hand side – see above.
    • Address as “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Dear Hiring Manager” if you have no name.
  • Step 2 Opening Paragraph
    • Outlines the purpose of the letter - I am excited to apply for your role of XXX (Ref:XXXX) in Houston.
    • Remember the job can be listed on numerous social media sites so not as important to state where you saw anymore. However, as companies can have similar jobs titles, the reference is key, to avoid confusion.
  • Step 3 Candidate Suitability Paragraph:
    • Be subjective – My boss and clients have the highest regard for me.” Demonstrate actual value – not perceived e.g. I have .
    • Display arrogance or over sell – “I am well recognised in the industry for being the expert in…..” Keep it simple – make sure your statements can be supported by your CV.
    • Display negativity - Don’t draw attention to your lack of experience or key skills – e.g. “Although I have only 2 years’ experience, I believe I could do the job”.
    • Repeat verbatim what is in your CV - show ability to paraphrase!
    • Highlight your key skills relevant to the role. A role will typically have “essential” and “preferred” skills. Focus on your relevant achievements that can demonstrate - e.g. With 20 years as a Business Development Manager, I have accomplished the following that I believe relevant to the role:
      • Expanded a cloud solutions portfolio across Asia Pacific and the Middle East – predominately through network and channel building...
      • Established an office in Dubai and in KL – sourced the office, recruited...
      • Achieved 140% of targets in the first year and a further 40% growth over the last 3 years...
    • Demonstrate subtly that you are knowledgeable of the company’s goals and have a good understanding of the key job requirements. E.g. “ I am pleased to hear of your recent success in Kazakhstan and to learn that you are expanding your Exploration Team to support this success. I believe that I can add value to this Team by bringing...”
    • Expand on one or more of your relevant accomplishments.
    • Show how you can add value to both the role and the Company.
    • Try and demonstrate that you have a broader knowledge of the industry sector/topic... e.g. you may present papers, led workshops, part of discussion forum, mentor students in this field, member of a relevant society, research collaboration, understand geographical differences of the topic/practice...
  • Step 4 Closing Paragraph:
    • Graduates may state “I would appreciate any guidance or advice you may have to offer in pursuing this or similar careers in your organisation. I look forward to hearing from you.” We were all graduates once and if politely asked – many will take the time to support you.
    • Professional may state “I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully being part of your XXX team, driving the success of your new XX venture”. Try and tie the final paragraph into your desire to work for them and to undertake the job in question...
    • Don’t be conceited – e.g. “I have no doubt that you will find my credentials to match your role perfectly and I look forward to the next step in the process...”
    • Thank the employer for their time in reading your application. You may wish to state a phone number e.g. “….if you have any questions, I would be delighted to clarify...”
    • Always end with a formal sign off e.g. Yours sincerely, faithfully, respectfully. If sending electronically – scan your signature and insert your signature image. In all circumstances, type your full name below your signature.

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