Writing a winning cover letter

Writing an application cover letter may seem like a daunting task to many of us. But, truly, it is a simple task – that is if you know how! Some call it an application letter, others call it a motivation letter; but, in essence the letter is a cover letter meant to encourage the recruitment officer to consider your curriculum vitae and, possibly, invite you for an interview.

The first part/ paragraph (introduction)

After having written your address at the top right corner (immediately followed by the date) and the recruiter’s address (below your own address but on the far left side of the letter) immediately followed by the title of your application letter (e.g. Application for the position of Engineering Intern – Ref No.: AB456/2014); you have to start writing the introduction to your letter.

More like an introduction to an essay, here you introduce your application and entice your reader to read further. You must state the position you are applying for, where it was advertised, state your suitability for the job. For example, “In response to your advertisement of the position of Engineering Intern (Ref No.: AB456/2014) on The Bursary Bin on Monday, 27 January 2014, I am expressing my interest in the said position. With my skills set, academic background and experience I believe I can make a valuable contribution to your company. I also believe that this position will contribute invaluably to my career growth” (this is  just an just an example, be creative – do not copy).

The second (and possibly the third) part/paragraph (the sales pitch)

The paragraph(s) following the first, should be about selling yourself by matching your skills, educational qualifications and experience with the job requirements and convincing the recruiter that you are the right candidate for the advertised position. Please do not lie about your skills, education or experience. Here is an example: “I have for the past three years been participating in vacation work at Company XYZ and have also completed experiential training with ZYX Company in order to complete my National Diploma: Construction Engineering. I believe the skills I learned and the experience I gained while doing vacation work and experiential training will prove very invaluable and enable me to not only learn speedily but to execute my duties with excellence.” (again, this is just an example, please use your own words as much as possible).

On this part you may also mention any positive experiences and related projects, achievements or awards you have accomplished. You may also say what attracted you to this company and why you would like to be part of it.

The last part (Thanksgiving and invitation to call you for interview)

In this part you can thank the recruiter for considering your application and invite them to call you for further information or an interview. Write your salutation, sign the letter, and leave your contact details (even if you included contact details in the CV). Here is an example: “I have enclosed my curriculum vitae detailing my qualifications, skills and experience together with copies of my qualifications for your consideration. If you need further information please do not hesitate to contact me using the details below.

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for considering my application.” (This is just to give you an idea, please write in your own words).

If your started your letter by using the recruiter’s name, use “Yours sincerely,”; If you started with a generic ‘Dear Sir/ Madam’ use “Yours faithfully,”.

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