Covering letter – How to write a hooking piece
Employers or HR professionals will most likely first read your covering letter, and only then decide whether they will read your CV and the rest of your application. So the main objective of the covering letter is to hook.
You need to show that you are truly convinced about being the right person for the job, about having the right competences. If they can feel that you are convinced, they will start getting convinced too, and they will want to know more – for which reason, you are sending them your CV and suggesting a talk, aka interview.
Recommended structure of covering letter
The covering letter should be of 1 page maximum, a bit shorter is even better.
You should not write it as a brief version of the CV, but highlight your strong motivation for performing the job.
- the header: your full name and contact details on which you are going to be easily reachable;
- 1st paragraph: what you are applying for + how you have learnt about the position + in your own words, that you believe this is exactly the job for you (1 -2 sentences);
- 2nd paragraph: Who you are and why you are the right person for the job = your most relevant skills and experience for this job (briefly, max 5-6 sentences);
- 3rd paragraph: why you want this job = your motivation. This is the most important part of your covering letter, because they can read about your skills also in your CV, but they will find details about your motivation only here – and they will decide based on this whether they even open your CV;
- 4th paragraph: it can be used to explain something that, without explanation, might lower your chances, such as any longer gaps in your work experience, or any unclear motivation (for example if applying for a job where you might be overqualified; or if you are applying in a different country from where you currently live) etc. If you do not have anything you would like to explain, you can skip this paragraph;
- the last paragraph: what you wish the next step to be: e.g. that they invite you for an interview;
- the end: your name with a signature above it, place, and date.
Crosscheck any potential misspellings, and give it nice graphics – print it before sending it out to see exactly the same layout that they will see. Already – at the first impression – your letter needs to look brief, clear and professional.