How to write a successful cover letter when applying for jobs online.

With all the emails people receive and ignore these days, one must question if a cover letter is necessary when applying for a job online. Personally I’ve created several filters and methods to avoid having to go through the onslaught of emails I receive on a daily basis. But I strongly believe that every resume sent to an employer should be accompanied by a cover letter as I see it as the first page of a good resume. Giving the application process a personal feel the resume can’t and it also shows the employer that you have the qualities they require, as you can focus on this in the cover letter.

In this brief guide I’ll go through some key components to a successful cover letter:

If emailed put your cover letter in the body of the email. If you plan on attaching it I would recommend that you convert it into pdf format, as employers are more likely to trust an attachment that’s in pdf. Remember to say what the attachment is, in the body of the email so it doesn’t seem like a blank email and deleted as spam.

Don’t make the employer work to read your letter! Make it easy to read so keep away from going crazy with the font you choose. (match the font used on your resume)

Keep it clear, concise and to the point. (you’re not writing an essay)

Use your own words not formal long-winded clichés. This is what gives it the “personal” touch so the employer can really connect with you.

Action verbs can help to make it sound better.

Spell-check and then double-check your spelling and grammar. Spell checkers won’t pick up form instead of from or sex instead of six!

Answer the question “Why should I see you?”

Make the person who reads it feel special: that it is addressed to them personally and not one of fifty identical letters you are sending out without thought or care. WARNING! Remember to research the “contact” so you’re actually sending the cover letter / application to the person making the decision. Don’t forget to double check the exact spelling of that person’s name. It’s very unprofessional to misspell a person’s name, especially in this case.

You might include your understanding of the work/knowledge of the company, and how you fit the criteria required. “I have a real interest in working as a ….” will not do: you must say why you decided to pursue this career, what first brought it to your attention, why you as a Science student should be interested in a career in finance.

Relate your skills to the job. Show the employer that you have obtained the communicating, team working, problem solving and leadership or other skills that are appropriate for the job.

Say when you’re available to start work (and end, if it’s a placement): be as flexible as possible, but don’t say things you know you can’t fulfill.


* A recent survey showed that  60% of resume/cover letters are mailed to the wrong person.

It’s important that you demonstrate to the potential employer that you understand the job requirements and can do the job. So include the skills and experiences you have that match the job description. You also need to show that you are enthusiastic and have a positive attitude towards the role and the hiring company.

Good luck with your job search.

About Chris
With over 11 years experience helping 1000's of job seekers secure jobs they're now gainfully employed at, Chris is known throughout the industry as a career coach who genuinely cares about helping the unemployed. As leader of a team of international telecommuters he manages a network of websites within the career coaching industry, which gets over 100,000 monthly visitors and he's in direct contact though his career coaching newsletter, with over 30,000 job seekers.

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