NWU Career Centre: Services to students
Tips for your job search: Your Cover letter
Your Cover letter:
Always accompany your CV with a cover letter. Cover letters convey your personality and enthusiasm, draw attention to your experience and your suitability for the job you are applying for. Your cover letter can differentiate your CV from the others on an employer's desk – make sure you grasp the opportunity to market yourself.
The cover letter serves the following functions:
• Explains why you are submitting the CV. The first paragraph should say why you are writing, name the position you are applying for, and say where you have seen the advertisement or heard of the position.
Introduces you to the employer.
• Serves as a vehicle to sell yourself to the employer. Here you have the opportunity to draw attention to your skills and experience.
• The focus of the cover letter is what you can do for the organization. It highlights the key features and strong points of your CV, connecting them to the company you are targeting. The cover letter should leave no doubt that you know what is wanted, and that you can provide it.
• Brief and structured, avoid repetition of lengthy information covered in your CV.
• Address the relevant contact if mentioned in the job advertisement – if no contact person was given, the salutation should read “The HR Manager”,”The advertiser” or “Dear Sir/Madam”.
• Refer clearly to the job title, any reference number and where and when you saw the advertisement.
• Refer to your CV and emphasise relevant points.
• Briefly outline your current situation and why you are interested in the job.
• Emphasise why the employer may want to meet and employ you.
• Highlight your skills, achievements and what you can contribute to the organization.
• Weave into your letter phrases that express your personality.
• Ensure the reader are left with an impression that you are a potential match for the job.
• Close the letter with a polite and positive expression of interest in further dialogue with the employer or recruiter.
• Neatly and clearly printed on the same good quality paper that you used for your CV.
• Well laid out and easy to read.
• Free of typing, spelling or grammatical errors.
• Always analyse an advertisement and identify requirements before writing your letter and updating your CV.
• The main purpose of the letter is to motivate the recipient to also read your CV.
• Pose short questions or develop concise statements that force the employer to turn the page and take a look at your CV.
• Get right to the point – assume that the reader is merely skimming your letter and is looking for a good match for the vacancy
• Your goal is to write something that resonates perfectly with what’s already on your reader’s mind.
• Keep the letter concise – a single page is sufficient.
• Target the cover letter at a specific job – don’t be tempted to send out a formatted example used for different applications.
• State the date and your name and address at the top of the letter.
• Always try to address the letter to a specific person by name and title.
• Clearly refer to the job title and the advertisement.
• State your interest in the job, mention your skills, education, special training and work experience that qualify you for the job.
• Thank the person for taking the time to read your letter.
• Check the letter for content, grammar, typos, bad punctuation and spelling.
• Use the same paper stock for the cover letter and CV.