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How to write a cover letter successfully

If you need to know the easiest way to produce a professional cover letter, you should read this article. The piece includes:


If you are applying for a job that you’ve seen advertised, trying to get a publisher or agent or sending out prospecting curriculum vitae, you will need to have a professional cover letter. It is amazing how underestimated this valuable piece of sales pitch is. If, at this point, you are a bit shocked because it had never occurred to you what the unassuming title ‘cover letter’ truly means then spend a moment to reflect on its power to sell you to the world. In other words, to get you exactly what you want.

First of all, let’s imagine that you’ve seen a job advertised and you think to yourself “I like the look of that.” Just contemplate how many other folks are out there thinking exactly the same thing. This means that the person doing the hiring has to sort through hundreds, maybe thousands, of applications. Do you think that they will spend time reading it thoroughly and reflecting on it? Sadly, they don’t. They glance at the cover letter and if it is professional and fits their need then they read it through. Essentially, this means that you should never fall into the trap of thinking that your cv is so outstanding that you can send out a weak cover letter. Never, ever think like that.

At this point, you may consider that you need to have a professional cover letter but assume that apart from the names of the person that you are addressing, the job positon and the company, you can send the same letter out to everybody that you apply to. This is one of the most common mistakes that applicants make when sending out cover letters. The problem is that employers can recognise a blanket cover letter almost immediately and it does not impress any of them. Employers want applicants that demonstrate that they will go that extra mile for them. In other words, that you have taken the time and made the effort to write a cover letter specifically for them.

If, after reading so far, you are groaning and despairing that this is just another job that you need to add to your mounting list of things to do, think of it as learning a new skill. Once you have mastered the art of cover letter writing, you will never again be fazed when you see it requested on a job application advertisement. Furthermore, after reading this article you will also be able to send out prospecting cover letters too. Okay, if you are now convinced that you need to learn how to write a cover letter, you should carry on reading.

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  • Even if your cover letter is an email, take the time to set it out in a professional format. It may be a cliché but first impressions do count on this occasion.
  • Type your name and address in the top right hand corner. Don’t leave spaces between the lines.
  • Leave a line space and put the date in when you are sending the letter.
  • Leave another line space and then, as it’s a business letter, put the name and address of the person you are writing to in the left hand side. The address should be the company address.
  • Leave two lines spaces and then address the person you are sending the missive to. For instance, Dear Mrs Littlejohn. Always try to get the name of the person if at all possible. In most cases, there will be a name if it is a job that has been advertised. However, if you are approaching a publisher, you should look on their website. If you are writing a prospecting letter, you should look on the internet or telephone the company for the information. In the event that you cannot get a name you should write “Dear Sir or Madam.”
  • Leave one-line space and this is where you will put the body of your letter.
  • At the end of the letter, you should finish with Yours sincerely if you started the letter with the person’s name. However, if you had to write Dear Sir or Madam, you should end with Yours faithfully. Never be tempted to write ‘cheers’ or anything similar.
  • Always check for spelling errors – make sure that you get the person’s name right that you are writing to and ensure that the company name is not misspelled. This may sound picky but if the employer could not decide between another person and you to get on the interview list and you had spelled the company name wrong, you’d be out.
  • Always check for grammatical errors too. This may seem like another small item but if you get an employer that has a particular bug bear over incorrect verb conjugation, you will not impress them if you demonstrate a tendency to mess up the verb ‘to be’.
  • Keep it to one side of A4. When the employer glances at your letter, they will want to know that you can keep to the facts and give them exactly what they wish to know. If you write five pages thinking that telling them everything that you have discovered about their company will impress them, unfortunately it won’t. They want to see that you understand what is relevant to the job that you are applying for.
  • The format of your letter is what will hit the eye of the employer first. Make sure it is tidy and professional. Impress them from the very start.

Now that we have got formatting out the way, we can concentrate on content. The first sentence needs to inform the reader why you are writing the letter. In this case, you need to specify what position you are applying for. It has to be clear and concise so that the reader instantly understands what your letter is for. Look at the two examples.

Dear Mrs Littlejohn

I am writing to apply for the position of full time swimming instructor at the Ugly Duckling Leisure Centre. I saw your advertisement on the leisure centre website.

Dear Mrs Littlejohn

I come swimming at your leisure centre every Wednesday evening. I love it. I am a fully qualified swimming instructor.

Can you see how the first one is directly to the point? We instantly understand that the writer is applying for a particular job. However, when we look at the second one, the writer assumes that by stating she is a fully qualified swimming instructor that the reader must know why she is writing the letter. Make it clear what your purpose is.

In the next paragraph, you are going to demonstrate why you are suitable for the job. It Is essential that you have got all the details of it in front of you while you are writing your cover letter. The reason for this is that you need to be able to see what criteria you need to fill for that particular job. In this paragraph or bullet list (if you prefer), you need to work through the job requirements one by one and find either a qualification that you have or work experience that matches up to each and every requirement. The trick then is to make it obvious how you meet their requirements. There are two ways that you can do this. You can state their requirement and demonstrate your ability to fulfil it. Essentially this means that you combine your list with their list. Alternatively, you can write their list and your list underneath it. Try out both ways and see which you feel most comfortable with. This is worth doing and it works. If done properly it makes it really easy for the employer to see how you fit their requirements.

In the next paragraph, you should demonstrate why you particularly want to work for the company, be concise but demonstrate that you have done your homework on them. You should also explain what you can do for the company. In this paragraph, you need to use a bit of psychology. Instead of it all being about you, you are selling the idea of why they need you. Take your time to think about this and brainstorm it with other people. It really is worth doing this to ensure that it is you that catches the eye of the employer and not one of the other hundreds of people applying for the position.

In your final paragraph, you can add any other information that you feel may be important and relevant. Yes, it must be both. Thank them for their time and then close your letter.

There are times when looking for a job can seem like a waste of time because there are not enough decent advertised ones or there is nothing that appeals to you personally or fits your skillset. In this situation, you have two options. You can either apply to jobs that you really don’t want and pray that all will work out for the best or you can send out a batch of prospecting cover letters.

If you have never heard of prospecting cover letters, you will be so glad that you are reading this article because they raise your chances of employment than if you are relying purely on answering advertisements. The trick is to do both, answer advertisements and send out prospecting letters too.

A prospecting cover letter is a letter that you would send with your cv to companies that you would like to work for. You have to do more work than you would by answering an advertisement but it can truly be worth it. For instance, if you love cosmetics and would like to work in the industry in some capacity but never see any jobs advertised, this could be the way for you to get employment with a cosmetic house.

Basically, you would get a list of companies that you would like to work for and starting at the top of the list get the company details. Find out if you can the names of people in HR so that you can address them by name. Once you have done your homework on the company and found out what type of jobs they have on offer, you can match up your qualifications and experience with what they have got.

Your cover letter would be formatted as written earlier in this article. However, unlike the cover letter that answers an advertisement, you would not be able to fit your qualifications and experience to their job criteria. However, this does not need to be a problem. Instead, you would tell them how your qualifications and work experience would fit certain careers that they have within their industry. For instance, if you wish to become a beauty consultant in a leading department store, you would explain that you have a diploma in skincare. Furthermore, you have three years’ sales experience selling organic skincare through a networking system. State how you love their products and would be proud to represent the company. Tell them that if they have no upcoming vacancies that you would like them to keep your cover letter and cv on file for the future.

Your final paragraph would be similar to the job advertisement letter and you would close as laid out in the earlier formatting list. It is worth sending out prospecting letters, people have managed to get good positions using this technique.

If you want to get your book traditionally published, you will have to approach publishers and agents. This means a synopsis of your work, the first three chapters and a cover letter. So what do you need to put in a cover letter to a publisher or agent?

  • Your contact details.
  • Your elevator pitch. Two sentences that sum up the thrust of your book. The reason why anyone would want to buy it. It has to be specific and utterly memorable.
  • The title of your manuscript.
  • Genre and word count.
  • A paragraph that would sell your book if written on the back of it and someone picked it up in a shop. Often referred to as the blurb.
  • Target audience and market placement.
  • Your background – keep it relevant.
  • Call to action.

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