Career Advice | 25 Oct 2019

How to write a cover letter - instructions and template included

Sean BreenDirector & Chief Biscuit Dunker

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a document that’s sent along with your CV to provide further information about your work experience and skills in order to highlight why you are qualified for the job you are applying for.

See also: How to write a CV - A step by step guide (Free CV template included)

Preparation

A cover letter is not a copy and paste assignment of your CV. Rather; it should complement your CV. A great cover letter will summarise the reasons for your interest in the company along with identifying your most relevant skills for the job available. It’s a great opportunity to grab the attention of the person who is screening the applicants – enticing them to want to learn more about you.

To write the perfect cover letter, fully research the company and learn about its mission and company values. How do they align with your own mission and values – are there any similarities?

Read the job description carefully and evaluate the skills required to do the job. Then match each skill with your own. Think back to situations when you applied the skills or requirements being asked. Consider how those skills/requirements would allow you to be effective in the position you are applying for.

Putting everything together

Contact information

The first section of the cover letter will be to add the hiring company details and your own contact information.

  • Hiring Employer Name (If you have the details)
  • Title
  • Company
  • Address
  • City, County, Post Code

Greeting

Include an appropriate greeting at the start of your cover letter. Go with either ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ or ‘Dear *Person’s Name*’.

Highlight your skills and value

The questions you want to address throughout the body of your cover letter are:

  • Why you are applying for the role
  • How you are qualified for the job

Start by naming the job vacancy you are applying for. Then explain your experience within the industry and highlight the skills you have that match those being asked within the job description.

Summarise your strengths and state why they make you a suitable candidate for the position.

Include details from your CV about your key achievements and competencies.

Workings hours

If the employer is requesting specific working hours in the job description be sure to mention your availability.

Closing

Always close your cover letter in a professional manner. Thank the employer for their consideration and mention that you are looking forward to hearing from them.

Proof read

Run your cover letter through grammarchecker.net or similar online software to ensure there are no grammatical errors. Read over your cover letter a few times and ask a friend, colleague or family member to also review it.

Salary expectations

Leave out your salary requirements and expectations as you only want to demonstrate an interest in the job rather than highlighting money as your primary motivation at this stage.

Cover letter length

The cover letter should be no more than 4 to 5 paragraphs (maximum 400 words).

Sample cover letter

*Hiring Employer Name (If you have the details)*

*Title*

*Company Name*

*Address*

*City, County, Post Code*

Dear hiring manager/name of the person,

I’m writing to apply for the position of *job title* for *company name*. As an experienced professional in *job title or industry*, I have developed my *match your skills with the skills listed in the job description* over the past *number* of years. My background in *list industry* has allowed me to *list achievements* (e.g. manage teams, build tools, lead, innovate) which has led to achieving exceptional results.

I was thrilled to see there was an opportunity to join *Company name* because *List the reasons why you want to work at the company* – review their company mission, values and goals and make comparisons on how they are aligned with your own values and goals. Discuss the employment opportunities that offer expansion and growth, the company culture, working environment or perhaps you want to be part of an innovative organisation, etc. With a *degree, diploma, certificate, etc.* in *discipline studied* I know I can confidently execute on *requirements listed in the job description*.

Within my resume you will find details of my competencies, achievements and experience which make me a highly suitable candidate for the *job title* at *company name*. I am extremely proficient in *reference a tool/skill/system from the job description* and I have extensive experience in *list requirement from job description*. I have a track record of *List transferable skill applicable to the job description requirements*.

My commitment to deliver is exceptional when it comes to achieving the mission at any organization I have previously worked for. For example *List your biggest achievements that are related to the job description*. I'm eager to discover how your company can benefit from my contribution. If you would like a *Competency and job title* "e.g. an innovative and determined IT Manager", you are more than welcome to contact me to set up an interview.

Many thanks in advance for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

*Your Name*

*Phone number*

*Email*

*LinkedIn address*

Final tip

If the employer does not request a cover letter, send one in anyways. It will only increase the likelihood of landing an interview. The employer may be impressed as it shows you are willing to go the extra mile at the very earliest stage. You would be surprised how many candidates don’t send in a cover letter with their CV – so make yourself shine! Standout from the crowd and put your very best foot forward. Best of luck from the entire team at JobAlert.ie.

If you need help writing your CV check out our step by step guide on how to create a perfect CV. Included within the guide are detailed instructions and a free CV template to download.

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