What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is essentially a short letter of introduction which is often sent along with a job applicant’s CV or resume.
What is the purpose of a Cover Letter?
The purpose of a cover letter is to give your potential employer a quick overall idea of your capabilities, and, if you are responding to a specific job ad, why you are suitable for this position. Ideally, you want your potential employer to then read your CV or resume, and then invite you for an interview. So your cover letter must make a good impression!
Are there different kinds of Cover Letters?
- Application letter: This is in response to a job advertisement.
- Prospecting letter: This is to find out about potential jobs.
- Networking letter: This is a request for further information and possibly assistance.
The most commonly used form is the application letter.
How long should my Cover Letter be?
Ideally, no longer than one page.
What sort of information should be in my Cover Letter?
Taking the application letter as a guide, there are several key points you should include in your cover letter. You should divide your letter into a header (with your contact details as well as the recipient’s contact details, plus the date), an introduction (where you express interest in the advertised job), main body (where you state why you will be an asset to the company/why you are qualified for the job) and a conclusion (where you end the letter, and sometimes also indicate what you expect to happen next eg “I will await your response”).
What should I keep in mind when writing my Cover Letter?
- Keep things simple.
- Present yourself in an honest, positive way.
- List your skills.
- Make sure you know exactly what kind of job you are applying for.
- Pair key words in the job advertisement to match your capabilities.
- Make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.
- Make sure you have listed all the important details, such as your contact details.
- Use polite language.
What should I avoid in my Cover Letter?
- A long, rambling letter.
- Do not enclose photographs with your cover letter.
- Don’t exaggerate or make up details about your work experience or skills.
- Try not to only focus on your abilities – think of what would be best for the company you are applying to.
An example of a Cover Letter:
16 Trill Road
+27 21 456 8725
12 August 2013
Mr David van Niekerk
Day News Editor
Cape Times Newspaper
Dear Mr Van Niekerk,
I am interested in job of senior news journalist that you advertised in The Cape Times this week. I have enclosed my CV for you to review. Please consider my qualifications and experience, which I think are ideally suited to this job opportunity in the light of the following reasons:
I have seven year’s experience working as a senior news journalist at The Star newspaper in Johannesburg, which satisfies your requirement for working experience.
In addition, I have worked as a freelance reporter covering news, politics and social issues for a number of publications both in South Africa and internationally, including the Mail & Guardian, the Sunday Times and Time magazine.
I graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from Stellenbosch University, which satisfies your academic requirements for this position.
I would really appreciate your going through my credentials. Thank you very much for your kind consideration. I shall await your response.
Tania February (signature)
Find out more about writing the perfect CV.