Career English

5 Steps to a perfect English cover letter

Imagine you are a recruiter and you need to go through hundreds of applications to choose just a few to invite for interviews. What is it that gives you the first impression of the applicant? That’s right, it’s the covering letter. Even though you might have a perfect CV you need a great covering letter, otherwise no recruiter will get as far as reading it. Here’s how to write a covering letter that will get you noticed.

Get to the point

Don’t waste the recruiter’s time (Remember, they are reading hundreds of these letters!), when you begin your cover letter, get to the point immediately. Explain why you’re writing and include the title of the position you’re interested in. You may even want to say where you heard of the opening: “I am writing to express my interest in the Sales Manager position advertised on your Web site. I have enclosed a copy of my resume for your review.” Once the recruiter knows exactly which job you are interested in, you can move onto the next step.

Match your skills

Make life easy for the recruiter by explaining exactly how you meet the requirements in the job advertisement.  Use specific examples from your CV to show how you meet or exceed the requirements stated in the job advertisement and use a phrase like “As you will see from my CV…” to introduce them. This encourages the recruiter to look at your CV and makes it easier for them to see what a great fit for the position you are. Finally sum up with something like this: “I am confident that these combined experiences make me an ideal candidate for this position.”

Demonstrate your English ability

Don’t just say you have good English skills – demonstrate them. In business English, clarity is the key to effective communication. Don’t try and show off with long, complex sentences. Keep your sentences short, the the points clear, and the style professional to make sure your letter goes in the ‘Yes’ pile.

Sell yourself but be honest

Remember the reason for this letter – to sell yourself to the employer and get the job! Explain how you can benefit the employer, what makes you unique or better than the other candidates, and why you are a perfect match for the position. Use action verbs such as facilitated, developed and managed to describe your job responsibilities, and make claims such as “I strongly believe I possess the right combination of skills and experience you are looking for” with confidence. Don’t exaggerate or lie, though, because you will get caught out later!

Proofread and edit your letter

Don’t waste all the effort you’ve put into writing your letter by sending it out with mistakes in it. Make sure to read your letter again before you send it. Look closely for spelling and grammatical errors and make sure it’s not too long. Finally, put yourself in the employer’s shoes, or pretend that you are the employer, and decide if you would hire the candidate who wrote the letter. If not, go back and make revisions until you have covering letter that shows what a perfect fit you are for the job.

So, now you have a perfect covering letter, all that’s left to do is add your English CV and send it out to the employer!

Wil is a writer, teacher, learning technologist and keen language learner. He’s taught English in classrooms and online for nearly 10 years, trained teachers in using classroom and web technology, and written e-learning materials for several major websites. He speaks four languages and is currently looking for another one to start learning.

Wil

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