Whilst job boards and emails make it quicker and easier to apply for jobs, it is tempting to send your CV without supporting it with a cover letter. A thorough cover letter that accurately reflects your competencies, desire and potential will provide you with a great platform to stand out from the competition, and may well elevate you to the top of the desired applicants list.
Whilst demonstrating an interest in the company and the role is a pivotal part of the job application process, the cover letter's focus needs to be on your core competencies and the reasons why you are ideal for the job.
The letter should follow the same structure as a normal business letter, beginning with the employer's name and address, the date and a heading after the salutation containing the job reference number or job title. Whenever possible, ring the organisation to find out who to send the letter to, as a personally addressed letter makes a much better impression than Dear Sir / Madam. End the letter with either 'Yours Sincerely' if you know the name of the person you’re sending it to or 'Yours Faithfully' if you don't.
The main part of the letter is subdivided into three sections:
Clearly state the role you are applying for and where you saw it advertised.
This is where you showcase your skills and explain how they match the functional and behavioural competencies stated in the job description and / or person specification. Keep your paragraphs brief and make sure you highlight core competencies, expanding upon information already provided in your CV.
Lay down an action plan; say you would like the opportunity to meet them for an interview and look forward to hearing from them. You might also suggest a time and date that you will contact them to discuss the role. If you do, make sure that you follow this up and are punctual.
A tailored cover letter adds real value to your application, so take the trouble to ensure that it highlights your key skills, and that the spelling and punctuation are perfect. Remember that letter writing is a valued skill and shows the employer that you can communicate effectively.
Should you decide to send your cover letter as an email, try to apply the same format above and refrain from adopting a conversational tone in your email.