6 Key Elements to writing a Smashing Cover Letter

Posted by | July 12, 2013 | Tips for Interns

A cover letter is extremely important when applying for an internship or any job for that matter. It is a shorter version of your CV, that allows you to talk directly to the employer. A good cover letter will stand out and will increase the chances of your CV being read. It gives you an opportunity to come across as a real person to potential employers.

Writing a cover letter can seem like a pretty daunting task. Take it step by step. Do not underestimate the power of a cover letter. Make sure you put time into the process. Have a look at some of these tips and advice on how to write a cover letter.

1. Your Greeting.

Your greeting will depend on how much information you have about the company.

If you know the name of the hiring manager your greeting should be “Dear [insert name]” , followed by a comma. Make sure you use their proper title (Mr…Ms…Dr).

If you don’t know the name of your hiring manager consider writing “Dear [insert company name] or “Dear Hiring Manager”. You can use “To whom it may concern” but do your best to try avoid this as it is very structured.

2. The first paragraph.

The first paragraph of your cover letter should be no more than 1-2 sentences long. This where you mention what the job is you are applying for and mention where you found the job listing.

For example ” I am submitting my application for the Digital Media Marketing position you have advertised on Jobs.ie on  July 12th ”

3. Know your audience.

Your audience is your prospective employer. You need to take into account who the company is, therefore your cover letter will differ from each internship/job you apply for.

If you do some research you can find out how a company operates, it will hint at the formality they will expect from your cover letter. You can find this very easily, simply take a look at  their website and social media pages and you will get a feel for the company’s tone. This will allow you to write your cover letter in a tone that matches the company’s.

4. The body of your Cover Letter.

This is usually 1-2 paragraphs long, as you do not want to take up to much of the hiring managers time. If the cover letter is too long the chances are they will not read it. Try and answer the following-

  • Why am I qualified for this position?

Don’t just tell them what you want them to know, show them. You need to provide undeniable examples of your skills. If you do this your cover letter will be less generic and structured and you will stand out more.

The best way to do this is to look back at your academic/work experience history. What has made you feel proud of what you can do? Tell a story about this in a few sentences. Remember you can tell anyone anything, but you have to provide an example to demonstrate why they should believe your claims.

  • What work experience (academic or otherwise) do I have that fits the internship requirements in  the company?

For example “During my time in college I gained excellent experience in communications through…. by doing…. and so on.

  • Why do I want to work for this company specifically?

This a chance for you to personalize your cover letter to a specific company. This means it will be very unlikely that someone else will have the same comments as you.

Look at the job description. What are they looking for- a hardworking person who can use their initiative. Tell them you are this person and once again back it up with examples. For example over the past 3 years in college their have been many situations where I had to use my initiative quickly in order for the work to be done with the highest of standards, for example….

Remember do not let your stories ramble on, keep them as short and sweet as possible.

5. Writing the final paragraph.

Reiterate in one sentence why you feel you are perfect for the job. If possible try avoid saying that references are available upon request. If possible mention references or attach them if you can.

Thank them for taking time out to read your CV and also mention that you are looking forward to their reply.

6. Ending your cover letter.

Always end with “Best” or “Sincerely” and don’t forget to type your full name below.

Make sure you take time to write your cover letter well and remember never ever send the same cover letter to different companies.  Always personalize your cover letter to the company and the job description.

I hope these tips helped. If you agree or have more tips please comment below.


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