Some may say the days of the cover letter are numbered. I disagree; in fact, I love a cover letter to accompany a CV.

When I open an email from a candidate applying for a position and it has a beautifully crafted, targeted cover letter attached, I immediately think that the CV is going to be good. Of course, this is not always the case but it is a good first impression. Even though the CV may not be suitable for the role applied for, it may be ideal for another.

If I receive a CV attached with no notes, not even in the email, relevant CV or not, it will probably be discarded. The cover letter sends a message saying ‘I really want this job, I have read through the job description thoroughly and highlighted my relevant skills, I have spent time on this and I’m not sending my CV for hundreds of other jobs, please call me’. It doesn’t take long and will significantly increase your chances of being selected.

Here are a few tips on how to write an effective cover letter:

  • Add your address to the top right hand corner and the date.
  • Insert the company name and address on the left, below your address.
  • Try to find out the name of the person who is responsible for the recruitment, more often than not, it will be displayed in the job advert. If not, do some research, phone the company and ask for the person dealing with that role. As a last resort use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ but don’t forget to sign off as ‘Yours faithfully’.
  • Use a standard font such as Arial or Calibri, don’t use fancy fonts, never use Comic Sans.
  • It must be written professionally so ensure you use correct spacing so it looks neat and easy to read.
  • Proof-read and proof-read again to ensure it is free from grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Keep it to the point. State which role you are interested in, why you feel you would be suitable then select job requirements and add your relevant skills. Do not copy and paste from the job advert.
  • Ensure your cover letter illustrates your enthusiasm for the role. Be positive, don’t mention the skills or experience you don’t have.
  • Sign off ‘Yours Sincerely’.

Click here to view a cover letter template.

By Meg Murphy, Director of Red Recruitment Solutions Ltd and Owner of Red CV Writing