What is a cover letter and what is it for?
A cover letter is a brief document that introduces you to a prospective employer. A good cover letter should grab the attention of the employer and compel him or her to read your resume, and contact you for a phone or face-to-face interview.
Why should I write a cover letter?
Without a proper cover letter to introduce yourself, an employer may not be inclined to even read your resume. Consider a cover letter as a way to highlight your strengths in relation to the job requirements and succinctly illustrate why you are the best person for the job. A well-written cover letter will also indicate to an employer that you possess good communication skills.
Where should the cover letter be located?
In today's digital era, the most ideal place to put the cover letter is in the body of the email to convince the employer to download the attached resume. If you are sending in your application by post, attach the cover letter in front of your resume.
- The cover letter should not be longer than one page. Remember that full details of your qualifications and experience should be in the resume.
- Do your research on the company and the position so that you can customise your cover letter to address the requirements of each job.
- Proofread your cover letter and look out for grammatical and spelling mistakes. If you must, allow others to read through your cover letter for mistakes you might not have spotted.
- Do not use contractions (I'm..., You're..., etc)
- To portray confidence, write in the active voice instead of the passive voice (E.g.: "In my previous position, I was responsible for the editorial direction and final design of the magazine...)
- Use a professional font like Calibri or Arial and stick to a font size in the region of 10 - 12
POSITION YOU ARE APPLYING FOR
Dear EMPLOYER'S NAME,
This paragraph explains to the employer why you are writing to them. Limit this paragraph to about 2 to 3 sentences. It should include:
- The reason you are writing.
- The position you are applying for.
- An explanation of why you are interested in this position. Be as brief and specific as possible.
- Optional: If someone in the company referred you to this position, include his or her name in the opening paragraph.
Second paragraph onwards
The next few paragraphs explain to the employer why you are qualified for this job. Some good items to include are:
- The qualifications you possess that make you suitable for the position.
- Any relevant experience that will impress the employer.
- A quick rundown of your strengths and abilities that fit the requirements of the position.
- A final sentence that summarises why you are the ideal person for the job.
Remember not to repeat points or specific work experience that you have included in the resume. The idea is to pique the interest of the employer enough to want to read your resume.
In the final paragraph, highlight your desire for an interview and explain that you will call again within a specific time period (and make sure you do). You must also include your contact information so the employer knows how to reach you.
64 Lorong Ah Chuan
Ms. Coleen Tan
3 Science Park Drive #02-08
Singapore Science Park 1
JOBSCENTRAL PTE LTD
Dear Ms. Tan (remember to put salutations when addressing the addressee),
I am writing to you as I would like to be considered for the above position in JobsCentral. I am reaching a crossroads in my career and view this position as a wonderful opportunity to learn something new as well as carve out a career in an expanding company.
I have prior writing experience in various consumer and trade publications and also did a short stint as an Editorial Assistant (Intern) with August Man. I was also part of the pioneer team that launched the campus newspaper for Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Tribune. With my stellar academic background in Mass Communications, I am highly confident that the skills that I have garnered will serve me well in this new position.
I am also a highly motivated person and take pride in my work. I enjoy problems and challenges, believing in the oft used cliché that nothing that kills you will make you stronger. I relish working to a deadline and thrive under pressure. I have always viewed obstacles as opportunities rather than problems and really get my teeth into whatever I am working on at the present moment.
Please do take a look at my resume attached. I really look forward to meeting the people at JobsCentral to discuss how I can contribute further to the company. You can reach me at 9456 7890 or at
- Writing a cover letter for electronic correspondence and manual mailing is similar. The only differences are that for email, your address will be with your signature rather than at the top of the letter and it will be an electronic signature rather than a handwritten one.
- For more tips on how to write a cover letter or resume, check out these articles on JobsCentral Community
How to personalise your cover letter
In writing a cover letter, remember that it should never be generic – it should be personalised and tailored to the job and company that you are applying for.
Have attention to detail. Scrutinise the job advertisement and ensure the details are exactly mirrored in your resume. For example, if job applications are to be sent to ‘Stephanie Green, HR Manager’, ensure that Stephanie’s name and title are on your cover letter and the spelling is correct. If the job title that you are applying for is ‘Administration Assistant’, ensure that you don’t write ‘Administration Coordinator’.
Reference relevant skills and experience. If you’ve done your research, you will know exactly what kind of skills and experience the hiring manager is looking for. For example, if the advertisement mentions that they are looking for a project manager who is ‘excellent at stakeholder engagement’, you could say; “As a project manager with 8 years’ experience, I am known for my ability to influence and engage key stakeholders to achieve business goals.”
Reference the company. In your research, you may have identified what the company goals or values are. Ensure that you reference those goals and values when writing a cover letter, and articulate how they reflect your own goals and values.