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How to write a cover letter

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By Ross Larkin

Writing a cover letter can be one of the most difficult aspects of job searching – even more than the dreaded job interview.

Sure, you might possess the most impressive, skill-laden resume in the world, yet it won’t mean a thing if your cover letter isn’t right.

Why? You need to communicate and summarise your relevant skill set, previous experience, reasons for your interest and why you are the right person all within the confines of a single page, using the perfect tone and just the right amount of personality.

It’s easy to see why so many get it wrong.

The first golden rule is never recycle a cover letter. Each one must be tailored according to the specifics of the particular company and role you’re applying for. Blanket letters are obvious to any trained eye, so you will only waste your own time.

The second is to address a real person and never “whom it may concern”. The preference being, of course, to use the correct person’s name, which you should be able to ascertain with a quick telephone call.

Refer to the job title within the first paragraph. There’s no need to keep your reader guessing and you have very little time to get to the point.

Now jump straight in and make your enthusiasm and appropriateness for this opportunity clear by matching your specific skills and experience with the particulars of the job.

“For the past three years I have worked in a similar role primarily as an administrator”,

or

“My training in this area has given me the relevant skills required.”

A little research on the company and the position will go a long way in addressing each area with the most relevance.

Remember – you’ve only got one page. Nobody has time to kick back and read your biography, no matter how intriguing it may be.

Finally, wrap up your letter with a summary about why you are right for the job and encourage the reader to peruse your resume, making it clear you would love the opportunity to meet and discuss your application further.