|The "do's" of cover letter writing
Do send a tailored
cover letter with every job application that you make
It can be useful to design a standard letter template,
which you can then tailor to the requirements of each
Click here to view tips on tailoring
a cover letter to a job advert.
Do use the highest quality paper you can afford
Use the same paper for your resumé, cover letter
and envelope. Headed paper creates the strongest impression.
Avoid folding your letter: today, it is likely to be
scanned into an applicant database.
Do use a word processor with a readable (and scanable)
font and a laser printer
The finished document should create a professional
and competent image.
Do follow a logical and professional structure for
Even if you are writing a high
impact cover letter, your letter should still include
your address and contact details, the recipient's address,
the date, a greeting, an introductory paragraph, three
to five paragraphs of text, a closing paragraph and
a closing statement. Limit the letter to one page, if
to see an example of a standard cover letter format.
Do research the name of the person to whom the letter
should be addressed
Names are often listed in business directories, which
are available in libraries and the Trade and Development
Council. You can also get them from the relevant secretary
or receptionist. If you cannot find the person's name
but know their gender, use "Sir" or "Madam".
Never use "Sir/Madam".
As a final option, you can use "The Recruitment
Manager", assuming that you are writing to a manager
who is currently recruiting. Always follow the instructions
on the job advertisement.
Do specify the position you are seeking – use a
"with reference" heading
By adding a "RE: Finance Manager Job Vacancy"
heading, you can avoid wasting space in the bulk of
Do use a compelling opening statement to attract attention
The opening statement is your first chance to create
a positive impression. It would be a pity to waste it
with a bland statement. For example, the phrase “I have
enclosed my resume in application for the above position”
does not inspire the recruiter to read further.
Click here to view compelling
Do consider using high impact tools and techniques
to add interest
Some specific techniques can help draw attention to
your key selling points and assist you to stand out
from the crowd.
Click here to read "A
guide to writing high impact cover letters"
Do focus on the company and the things they would
gain if they employed you
A recruiting company is only interested in employing
someone who will create profit-related results for them.
You must show them exactly what you can do to help the
company get results. Focus on examples of when you have:
saved money, generated sales, improved efficiency, negotiated
lower prices, helped someone else learn how to do things
better, reduced waste or saved time, etc.
Even the most junior person can add value. For example,
a clerk might use her initiative and set up a schedule
for her outdoor tasks. The schedule would increase efficiency
and she might then spend more time on keeping the client
database up-to-date, which would, in turn, translate
into increased efficiency for the sales team.
Do outline your relevant skills
Highlight skills that are directly relevant to the
requirements and include short descriptions of your
achievements. Focus on the results you achieved rather
than the methods you used.
"Skills" are different from "duties".
A duty is something that you are required to do (for
example, recruitment). Skills are the actions that you
have learned and which enable you to perform a duty
(for example, interviewing skills, job advertisement
writing skills and resume-screening skills).
Do use powerful, active, energetic language
Keep sentences short and to the point. Avoid over-polite
or old-fashioned language, such as hitherto, forthwith,
furthermore and moreover.
Do demonstrate your knowledge and understanding
of the company
Use language or words that are common within the industry
you are applying to. You can also refer to company products
or industry developments. Do your research before applying.
Do close with a powerful final statement
Express your expectation of interview and enthusiasm
for the work. Leave no doubt that you know that you
are right for the job.
Do proof read obsessively
One typing error is all that is needed to land your
resume in the bin.