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How to Create a Great Cover Letter

How to write a great cover letter

Did you know that recruiters decide – within five to seven seconds of glancing through a CV – to reject or investigate the contents further?

Research indicates that often they don’t even get as far as examining the CV, having discarded a too-short, hastily written cover letter or a lengthy, boringly worded motivation within those first vital seconds.

Here are some general guidelines to help you along the way.

Steps to crafting a perfect cover letter:

Salutation

Avoid using a gender- or time-specific greeting. “Good morning” or “Dear Sirs” should be replaced with “Good day” or “To whom it may concern”.

Introductory first paragraph

This should outline the position for which you are applying: 

I would like to apply for the role of Work-from-Home CSI Manager as advertised on your website.

That’s the easy part. You now need an attention grabber to keep the recruiter reading. He/She has probably been flooded with applications and will quickly dismiss those with complicated wording in which your skills are not easily and instantly identifiable.

Keep them reading

Inherent Job Requirements (IJR’s) are the key to success here.

Carefully read through the job description, and you will quickly identify the main IJR’s. You should then be able to offer an immediate solution to the recruitment ‘problem’ by giving a fact-based response which clearly demonstrates your skills match to their job requirements. Write your cover-letter as if responding or ‘answering’ these requirements.

My Curriculum Vitae has been attached for your perusal and goes into greater detail, but I would like to focus your attention on my skills and qualifications. I believe that I am suited to this position as:

·       I completed my B Com – Marketing & Communications Management (Hons) at the University of South Africa in 1997

·       I have 12 years’ experience managing the CSI arm of a well-known retail group

·       I have a fully-functional home office set-up and reliable network connection, equipping me to work from home and meet deadlines in a reliable fashion

Professional Photo for CV or Cover Letter

To add your photo… or not? A word about adding a photo to your cover letter… should you or should you not? If required, or if you decide to do so, ensure that the photo is a professional formal ‘head and shoulders’ only, in corporate attire.

Writing, formatting and style

  • Paragraphs should be short and punchy. Stick to facts, using demonstrable examples of specific key skills, qualifications or competency which are in line with what they are looking for. Give tangible proof using examples of your key skills.

The quality of my output and dedication to my work is best demonstrated by my increasing the loyalty of our customer base directly through focused CSI initiatives, as measured by KPA’s such as basket size and return visits, by 260% in the past fiscal year

  • Information should be relevant and succinct. Remember, a covering letter is there to introduce yourself and give a peek at your suitability as a candidate, so they are readily inclined to examine your CV in more detail.
  • Don’t use graphics, pictures or different colours – keep it formal and focused on content.  If you are – for example, a graphic designer and are aiming to impress, this should be confined to a link in your portfolio, and not included in your covering letter.
  • Check and re-check spelling and grammar. If possible, ask a trusted third party to check that there are no errors.

 

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Ending your letter

End the letter on a note of confidence as to your suitability for the position.

I am confident that my skills match those required and would love to be afforded the opportunity to meet with you in person.

I trust that this application will meet with your favourable response.

 

Example of a good covering letter:


Good day

I would like to apply for the role of Work-from-Home CSI Manager as advertised on your website.

My Curriculum Vitae has been attached for your perusal and goes into greater detail, but I would like to focus your attention on my skills and qualifications. I believe that I am suited to this position as:

·       I completed my B Com – Marketing & Communications Management (Hons) at the University of South Africa in 1997

·       I have 12 years’ experience managing the CSI arm of a well-known retail group

·       I have a fully-functional home office set-up and reliable network connection, equipping me to work from home and meet deadlines in a reliable fashion

·       The quality of my output and dedication to my work is best demonstrated by my increasing the loyalty of our customer base directly through focused CSI initiatives, as measured by KPA’s such as basket size and return visits, by 260% in the past fiscal year

I am confident that my skills match those required and would love to be afforded the opportunity to meet with you in person.

I trust that this application will meet with your favourable response.

Yours truly,
Jane Soap


In order to grab the interest of the recruiter, a strong motivating letter is essential to creating the best first impression and will help to give your CV a good chance of being read. A covering letter is there to explain why you are suitable for the role, and not why you are desperate for the position.

 

Ready to apply for the job of your dreams? Register on our award-winning recruitment site and fill in your detailed CV. When applying for positions, you will be given the opportunity to compose your perfect motivational cover letter for prospective employers.

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