A cover letter is an introduction to you and your CV. It’s therefore the first impression an employer has of you. That makes it absolutely vital for your prospects of landing any job. Here’s how you can ensure you write cover letters that make your first impression a good one.

Keep it short and simple

Ideally your cover letter should be no longer than one page. If it can be shorter than this, even better. If you can’t sell yourself in half a page, chances are you can’t with far more space.

It’s also smart to include your cover letter in the body of an email, as attachments can sometimes be lost in transit.

Get the basics right

There are a few simple things you should always do in a cover letter. These are:

  • Address it to the specific person recruiting for this role (if you know who they are)
  • Make it clear what position you’re applying for (include this in the subject line of your email too)
  • Mention when you’re available for interview
  • Explain when you’re available to start
  • Include all relevant contact details

These may seem obvious, but they are important details that recruiters and hiring manager pay attention to.

Nail the ‘why’

The key to a good cover letter is nailing the ‘why’ – making it crystal clear why you’re perfect for this role.To do this, you need to show that you understand the requirements of the role, and that your experience and skills perfectly match these requirements.

It sounds simple, but you need to explain this in concise and punchy fashion. So get to the point quickly, and be specific – name the key skills and experiences that prove you are the right person for the job.

Flatter them

It’s also important to explain what attracted you to apply. Remember that this company will be very proud of what they do, and very excited about hiring someone equally exciting. So, show that you care about what they do, and that you’ve done your research on them. You don’t need to be overly complimentary but showing your interest in them is always a wise move.

Don’t be negative about leaving

When explaining your current position and why you’re now looking elsewhere, it’s vital that you frame it in a positive way. Complaining about your current role will actually be a concern for a prospective employer – they will worry that history could repeat itself. Instead, explain how this role represents the next step in your career – show them that you’re ambitious.

Spend lots of time proofing

It’s remarkable how often cover letters contain small grammatical errors. Think of it this way: if this position has lots of applications, a recruiter might not be looking for reasons to progress with someone, but reasons to dismiss a CV. And if you allow a mistake to slip through the net, you’ve given them a simple reason to dismiss yours.

Double check it and get someone else to check too. Keep your language and grammar simple to avoid potential pitfalls. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste.