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How to write a cover letter

If you aren't sure how to write a cover letter, read on! The skills needed to write a cover letter aren't hard to acquire, it simply requires a bit of planning to ensure you provide what the employer wants - remember, the easier you make their job, the more likely you are to be offered an interview.

Understanding how to write a cover letter starts with doing your research. Before you even think about writing the letter you need to understand as much as possible about the company and about the job you are employing for. It's vital that every application you make is tailored for that job and that employer.

Once you are sure you know what you need about the job and the employer, you can begin writing. Successful letters are well structured - that means starting with an opening paragraph in which you tell the employer why you're writing to them.

Keep this simple - tell them the position you are applying for, or, if you are simply writing a letter of interest, that you asking about positions that might be available. You can also mention why you are interested in working for the employer - it shows that you have done your research.

The next couple of paragraphs are where you sell yourself. You need to outline your relevant skills and qualifications, showing how they match the requirements of the position. How can you help this company reach its goals? What will you contribute to their bottom line?

Again, by relating it to not just the specific position but to the company itself, you show you have done your research and that you understand the company's background and history. Look to make two or three points here, each backed up by specific examples from your previous work experience or training.

The final paragraph is where you wrap it up. By now you have either hooked the employer or not, so keep it simple. Thank the employer for their time and consideration, add a positive statement or question that will cause the employer to take action, and draw their attention to your enclosed r?sum?. Finally, make it clear when you are available for an interview.

Conclude your letter with "Yours sincerely," if you addressed the letter to a particular person, or "Yours faithfully," if you had to open with "Dear Sir/Madam".

Many people see the cover letter simply as something to go with the CV, but if you get it right, it will have the employer wanting to read your r?sum?, and already looking favourably on your application.