So, you’ve found an opening for a job that you just know you’re right for. You’ve spent time putting together the perfect CV and now you’re ready to apply, right? Wrong. Usually, as part of the application process, you will also be expected to provide a well-written cover letter. The purpose of a cover letter is to inform your prospective employer of exactly which position you’re applying for, while at the same time demonstrating your suitability for the role. There’s plenty of great advice out there on what you should and shouldn’t include, but knowing the basics isn’t always enough.
To maximise your chances of success, it’s important to remember the following:
- It’s not a rewrite of your CV
Your CV is basically a list of previous experience and qualifications. Your cover letter is the chance to pick out your most relevant and impressive achievements and go into more detail. For example, your CV might include something like the following:
Mathematics Tutor (September 2016 – June 2017): independently planned and delivered one-one lessons in GCSE mathematics on a weekly basis to students with learning difficulties.
This is great, but very brief. In your cover letter, you have the opportunity to explain what challenges you faced, how you overcame them, and what skills you developed which make you the ideal candidate.
Your cover letter is also your opportunity to prove that you’re a good cultural fit. You want to show that you share the company’s values and that you like the way they work. Taking the time to explain in this way why you want to work for them specifically shows that you’ve done your research and that you’re taking the application process seriously.