Cover letter examples


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How to write a winning cover letter

A cover letter is easily one of the most underestimated documents a job seeker can use to increase their chances of getting an interview. When written correctly, the cover letter serves as a great introduction to a professionally written CV. However, get this wrong and you could drag your entire application down with it!

To ensure you make the best possible impact with your application, here’s how to write a winning cover letter.

Cover letter format

If you are unfamiliar with the format of a cover letter, here’s what you need to include:

  1. Your name and address – top right hand corner, including contact number.
  2. The date – underneath contact details.
  3. Hiring manager’s name, job title and company address – on the left hand side underneath your details.
  4. Write – ‘Dear Mr Smith,’ (name of hiring manager).
  5. Before you begin the letter you should include ‘Re: Customer service advisor position’.
  6. Introduce your CV with two to three paragraphs.
  7. End with ‘Yours faithfully’, add a signature and then print your name underneath.

What to include

Confirm the position you are applying for, where you saw it and why you are applying. Then move on to discus why you are suitable for the position, but be careful not to cover everything within your CV. Focus on two to three points which you feel would make you a great candidate. You obviously need to highlight your best achievements – skills, awards, qualifications and/or experience.

Make everything relevant to the role so the hiring manager has a clear reason to hire you, but keep your letter brief and to the point. You only need to write between 2-3 short paragraphs to try and grab their attention. Your mission is to introduce your application with a professionally written cover letter which is snappy, focused on the role, and makes the reader want to find out more from your CV.

Keep it brief

You must get straight to the point and not beat around the bush. If you fail to grab the hiring manager’s attention with the very first page of your application, they may not bother reading the rest. Your CV would do better by itself!

You do not need to cover too many things as this will be provided within your CV. Just highlight a couple of points which clearly identify you as a worthy candidate. If you provide too much information in your cover letter you are likely to bore the reader and fail to make a positive impact.

Tailor your cover letter

Your cover letter and CV should be tailored to the role and the company. If you provide a generic cover letter you will already be looking at rejection. The hiring manager will wonder why you’ve bothered to make the effort and include a letter when it fails to address the key aspects of the role.

The whole idea of a cover letter is to show the employer how passionate you are about the job and the company. The only way you can convey this message is to tailor it around the job description, and to make it clear why you’ve chosen them. Use specific words that directly address their available role and customise every word, sentence and paragraph.

Yes, this does mean you should write a new cover letter and CV every time you apply to another employer!

Avoid clichés

You should always avoid cliché statements in your application. It doesn’t provide the employer with any indication at all as to why they should hire you. Instead, it creates a very generic and cliché application which will not win any prizes.

Here are the usual suspects to avoid:

I am a hard worker

I have great team working abilities

I have great communication skills

You cannot hope to create a believable application by forcing the point. So instead of telling them you should show them. You stand a far better chance of getting an interview if you supply actual evidence that eradicates any doubt as to your suitability. Your credentials will speak for themselves!

Check for mistakes

Before you send your application it needs to be checked for mistakes. If you have one in your cover letter it will cast a shadow of doubt before they’ve even gotten to your CV. The employer will struggle to take the rest of your application seriously. It shows you are prone to making errors and have accuracy issues – are you likely to bring those traits into the job?

A spelling or grammatical error is the number one reason why a CV is rejected. So take the time to check your entire application and even ask someone else to look as well. An extra pair of eyes is always welcome.

Ask for feedback

Don’t be afraid to ask someone else to speak their mind about your cover letter and CV. You cannot rely on your own judgement with something so important, and additional help is always beneficial.

Swallow your pride and take any feedback you receive on the chin. It isn’t a personal attack, and the whole point of asking for feedback from a friend is to help you improve. If you trust the person who’s providing the feedback because they have managerial experience, then use that knowledge to iron out any mistakes and create the perfect cover letter and CV.