How to Write a Cover Letter

When you are searching for that dream job in the UK, it is important to know what to say about yourself to attract the best potential employer. The hardest part is to know what to include and what not to include in the letter. But remember that the cover letter is your best chance at gaining the attention of a potential employer, and it is your chance to put your best foot forward and talk about your strong points.

The Function of a Cover Letter

It is important to understand the function of a cover letter. The job application cover letter is meant to accompany your resume. They work hand-in-hand to present your skills, education, and abilities to the interviewer. The goal is that the cover letter that accompanies your resume will help you stand out among the crowd by focusing on the key reasons why you are a better match for the job than the other applicants.

Cover Letter Layout

The layout of the cover letter should include a number of aspects that the employer or HR recruiting person is likely to look for. At the most basic level, good cover letters should include:

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Closing
  • Contact information

How to Start

In the introduction, you introduce who you are, which position you are applying for, and a quick summary of why you are the best candidate for the job. You will tell your name, a brief summary of your job experience that applies to the job for which you are interviewing, and something about the successes you have achieved thus far in your career.

Body

After this, you move to the body of the speculative cover letter, and get into more detail regarding your skills and what your previous jobs and education have taught you. Remember to only refer to those positions, jobs, or skills that directly correlate to the position you are wanting to acquire. If you stray too far from the mark regarding your  job experience, you may unwillingly convince an employer that you are not the best candidate after all. So make sure any experiences you mention are directly related to your job choice.

Closing & Contact Information

When you are sure that you  have covered the information effectively, you will move to the closing. In the closing, you should include a summary of why you are the best candidate for the job, a quick reminder of your education and experience, and your contact information. The contact information should be at t he very bottom of your communique so that it is the last thing they see and they may be motivated to contact you immediately after reading your letter.

Tips for Writing a Cover Letter that Sells

One of the things you can do to learn to write better cover letters is to view cover letter examples on job sites and get an idea of how a good letter should look. While there is no specific template UK employers look for, there are some elements that will help your cover letter stand out among the crowd.

Social Proof

There is a term on the internet in business circles called “social proof.” It is the real-world equivalent to credibility in the workplace. You build this by the things you do online that you can point to when applying for a job via an online channel or through an HR recruiting site. By inserting links to these sites such as your LinkedIn profile, Facebook, or Twitter pages, you will provide such proof that you have the experience with these certain aspects of the job that can be validated, rather than just taking your word for it.

Research the Company You are Applying For

The Guardian Jobs publication has some great tips on writing an effective cover letter, how to address a cover letter, and how to represent yourself to get an interview. Just like in any effective writing or communication, you should always keep in mind who your audience is, know the company well, and present a case that you would be the best person for the job. If the company allows it, you could also include examples of your work, such as project portfolios and work samples. If this is not feasible, you can include a link to your social media profile, such as LinkedIn or Twitter where you have this information.

Cover Letter Style & Length

What is the acceptable format for a cover letter and how long should a cover letter be? Again, there is no exact example or standard regarding length but you should make it long enough to get into some of the details of your education and job experience as it applies to the job for which you are applying.

Remember Your Grammar Rules

When writing a letter for your potential employer or HR officer, you should make sure that you have followed correct grammar rules, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. There is nothing more annoying to an HR recruiter or employer than to get a cover letter with numerous grammatical, spelling, and mechanical mistakes. So make sure you run your finished  copy through MS Word spell and grammar check, or download an online tool such as Grammarly.com to get an even more in-depth look at the quality of your words. Remember that HR people and employers do not know you except by your words, so you may not have a second chance to make a good first impression.

Be Confident

One of the most important things you can do when trying to land that job is to be confident. If you do not believe that you can do the job, why should anyone else believe it? Your job in the cover letter is to take the most essential things from your resume and bring them to center stage. Then you need to convince the reader that you have what it takes to make it in the job. Focus on selling yourself in the cover letter, as though you were there talking to the person directly and they asked you why you are the best candidate for the job in question.

Try the Assumptive Close

One final technique that you might consider trying is a technique used often by sales people called “the assumptive close.” This technique adopting the position that they are definitely going to choose you because there is no other conclusion they can come to once they have read your letter and reviewed your qualifications. You can do this by restating your objective, reminding them of what you can do for their company, or by listing some of your more impressive skills. By keeping these things fresh in their minds, you may seal the deal by helping them come to their own conclusions about your abilities.

Remember to follow these tips to improve your chances of success. But most of all, be yourself. HR recruiters are responsible for filtering out the less qualified candidates and letting the cream rise to the top. You already know you are the best person for the job. So all you have to do now is to convince the HR department of this fact. You can do it!

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