CV vs. Cover Letter
CV is a summary of your educational qualifications, skills and work experience. They are often simplified and restricted. A cover letter on the other hand, is an add-on to your CV that reflects your knowledge of the requirements of the position you are interested in and gives a more detailed introduction of yourself, including what you can contribute to the position that you are applying for.
How and when you can use a cover letter
Since the purpose of a cover letter is to give further introduction of yourself and demonstrate your interest in the company or a specific vacancy, this could be the first impression of yourself that you give to your potential employer. Therefore, you want this impression to be specific and relevant. An often misunderstood concept is that you need to send a job application to send a cover letter. However, you don’t always to need to send a job application to send a cover letter. For example, if you are interested in a specific company or organization, you can send them a cover letter explaining your interest in the company and to inquire if they have any openings available.
Structure of a cover letter
Typically a cover letter should consist of three components: introduction, body and conclusion. Begin the cover letter with your address and the employer’s address. This is followed by the salutation, “Dr. /Mr. /Ms. Followed with the Surname”. If you are unsure of whom the addressee is, you could write ‘To the Hiring Manager’. However, a simple internet search is all it takes to find out the name of the addressee. Do not remove the personal element from correspondence by writing ‘To whom it may concern’ as a salutation. Adding a personal touch such as a name in this case could make your letter stand out from the others. Going the extra mile during your application process could bring good results for you.
This is the section that is often under-looked, although in some ways the most important. It is one section that captures the employer’s interest to continue reading the rest of the cover letter. Identify the position you are applying for or the career objectives you have. Indicate where you heard about the job and why you are interested in that particular vacancy.
The body of the cover letter should have (1-3 paragraphs) and show that you understand the nature of the position by explaining how your qualifications relate to it. Pick 2-4 accomplishments you have that match the requirements of the vacancy. Use this section as an opportunity to illustrate in detail how you can contribute to the role and the organization. Include examples where you have demonstrated the requirements.
In this section, restate your interest in the position and how you will make the best candidate for the position. Also, since one of the main objectives is securing an interview, you should suggest to the reader what you would like to do and how you intend to follow it up. This could be done in the form of a request for an interview or a statement of your intent to follow up. Sign off the letter in a polite but formal manner after thanking the employer.
Dos and Don’ts of a Cover letter
What you should not do
- Address the letter to the wrong person.
- Boast about yourself or fabricate skills and qualifications.
- Repeat the same points that are on your resume.
- Demand for things from the potential employer.
- Forget to proof-read your letter for errors and tone.
What you should do
- Always address your letter to the appropriate person.
- Keep every cover letter original.
- Stick to simple and uncomplicated sentences.
- Highlight your important qualities.
- Draw out how enthusiastic and confident you are about the position.
- Proofread it several times before sending the letter.
- Mention that you are interested in an interview.
- Maintain a formal tone throughout your letter.