A good cover letter will effectively highlight your specific strengths in relation to the company you are approaching. It will focus on what you can do for the organisation, rather than the other way around. Obviously this will change from organisation to organisation and from vacancy to vacancy. Therefore you should tailor your cover letter each time you send it. The following article, ‘How To Write A Cover Letter’, is a structure you can use for almost any covering letter, personalising it according to the recipient.
Get straight to the point and explain why you are contacting the person. If you are responding to an ad your opening can be:
“I am writing in response to your advertisement for the role of Sales Manager in the Independent on 15th September.”
Covering letters are also often used when a referral has been made. In this instance you should mention the mutual contact and your relationship to them. For example:
“I have been recommended to contact you by Mr. Joseph Bloggs, Sales Manager at ABC Shoes. I have known Mr. Bloggs as a client for several years and when I advised him that I was interested in finance opportunities within the media industry, he suggested I get in touch because of your organisation’s position as the UK’s leading media organisation.”
What can you offer?
Next move on to why the recipient should meet you. Remember, this is all about what’s in it for the employer – how they can benefit from your skills and experience.
A response to a vacancy calls for a two-pronged approach. Firstly, highlighting the parts of your background that are most relevant to the role:
“The advertisement specifies experience working in a multiplatform advertising environment; which links well with my role at AlphaZed where I developed 25 new SME clients for both social media and newspaper advertising channels, successfully generating revenue of £750,000 per annum.”
Secondly, pointing out why you wish to work for the company. This may require you to reflect on why you actually do want to work there. Do you like their ethos, the products, customer service, or their reputation? Once you have identified this, you can select those parts of your experience that best match:
“Your organisation has an impressive attitude towards service delivery, as demonstrated by your stated mission to achieve an average customer relationship of ten years. Similarly in my own career I have maintained many client relationships for long periods of time, winning Relationship Manager of the Year on three occasions.”
This approach is particularly effective when responding to vacancies. However, you can also adapt it to a referral contact. In that situation where there isn’t an actual vacancy, focus on why you wish to work for the company and the sector.
The final part of the letter will consist of a ‘Thank you’ to the recipient for their consideration and a call to action. For a vacancy response, this will be a request for an interview, while a more speculative approach can involve a request to meet the person informally. In both cases you should also include your availability:
“Thank you for considering my application. I welcome the opportunity to discuss my suitability at an interview. I can make myself available with notice of a day or two and can start within one month.”
“Thank you for your time and consideration, which is greatly appreciated. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to introduce myself properly and have an informal conversation about potential roles in the future.
Please contact me without any hesitation.”
This just leaves you to sign off with a courteous ‘Yours sincerely’ and you’re done.