Just like Curriculum Vitae (CV), a cover letter is a document you can use to successfully convince your potential employer to invite you in for a job interview. It’s a tool to convey where you’ve been successful, to list your strengths and to explain why you’re the best candidate to fill a given position. A cover letter provides an opportunity to enchant your employer and get him interested in you. This is your 5 minutes!


First: form and content

Just like a CV, a cover letter is your showcase. Whenever we buy a book or look at a newspaper, we start by judging the cover, the outer appearance and the visual appeal. It’s like that with a cover letter. If a cover letter is sloppily written, contains spelling mistakes and errors or is poorly formatted, this may work to your disadvantage and your application may end up in the bin.


Make sure your cover letter is clear and transparent, use paragraphs and punctuation, pick an appealing letterhead that fits in well with the industry or position you’re applying for. Since your cover letter is a part of your CV, it needs to be written in the same font type and size as your CV and needs to bear similarity to it. Cover letter contents need to supplement the information you’ve covered in your CV. Remember: a cover letter is not just another version of a CV!


Second: customization

If you’re composing a cover letter, try and address it directly to the recruiter who’s going to be conducting the job interview. Any recruiter will feel a sense of appreciation if they receive a cover letter that’s addressed directly to them. This approach will prove you’re committed and take the given employer seriously. However, if you don’t know your recruiter, address your cover letter to the company or the department you’re applying to.


Third: say no to templates

The Internet is awash with cover letter templates. We definitely advise against their use. Recruiters know them well and what’s more, there’s a high likelihood you won’t be the only one submitting a cover letter modeled on the same template. Also, try and avoid worn-out cliché phrasing already used by thousands of other applicants.


Show the recruiter you care and be creative. Think of a good way to describe the advantages and benefits to your future employer if they hire you. Provide specific examples of where you’ve applied the strengths you’ve listed in the CV. For example, if you’re applying to work in marketing and the key prerequisite is creativity, you can tell your future employer how you apply this skill in practice and how they will benefit from it as a result. It’s a good idea to mention the projects you’ve worked for and how you’ve been successful. Provide facts, numbers and hard data. Remember, a cover letter is not a CV, it’s an expansion on a CV!


Put your best foot forward

Imagine you’re the recruiter. It really helps! Think what skills you’re looking for in a candidate to fill a given position. Pick anywhere from three to five of your strong points that are best matches and describe them.


Sign your cover letter.

A cover letter signed by hand looks great, and makes it easier for recruiters to remember your CV. If you can’t sign by hand, because you’re applying online, a computer-generated signature is also admissible.


By following these rules, you’re growing your odds of finding the dream job.