A cover letter is your chance to make a great first impression and stand out from the crowd. Don’t ruin that chance. You need to make sure your grammar, spelling and formatting are on point. So do read on to learn all the secrets to an error-free cover letter!
Do find out the name of the person you should be addressing the letter to. If you can’t work it out online, pick up the phone and ask the name you should address your application to. You’ll immediately seem more professional than the swathes of applicants starting their letters with the dreaded “Dear Sir/Madam..” plus you’ll have spoken to someone at the company who could well remember your name. Bonus.
Do use formal modes of address. At this stage of your career it is best to err on the side of caution: “Dear Mrs Finamore” rather than “Dear Emma”.
Do place your address, the company’s address and the date in the correct places. Here's a refresher of how that should look:
Your address: top right
Name and address of recipient: below this and on left
Date: either a space below the recipient details, or below and on the right
Greeting: below the date and on the left
Do write the date out in full. So, “14th April 2015” rather than “14/04/15”. And if you must use the shortened version make sure Word hasn’t automatically converted it to the American format, which switches the day with the month (and will not make sense on your letter!).
Do use the correct sign-off. If you’ve done well and found the name of the person receiving your application, sign off using “Yours sincerely”. If do not have this information and have used Sir/Madam, sign off using “Yours faithfully”.
Don’t slip up on your grammar. Mistakes should be flagged up the same as a spell-check on your computer, but the most common errors involve the use of "their" instead of "there" or "they're," ; "it's" instead of "its," ;"whose" instead of "who's" ; "you're" when you should use "your."
Don’t write too much. A cover letter should be a succinct way of showing why you are worth interviewing, not a 12 page breakdown of your personality. You don’t want the reader getting bored halfway through!
Don’t repeat your CV. Instead look at the person specification and briefly say how your experience fits with each specification. This adds life and colour to the information already on your CV.
Image courtesy of Aaron Burden