Do your research
Show how much you want this job by fully researching the company, the sector and the role online. Your knowledge will then come through in your letter.
Keep to the point
A good cover letter is short and worth reading, because it adds to your application rather than repeating it. So keep it to a page, and aim for around 200 words or so.
Lay it out correctly
If you're applying by email, you can paste the main paragraphs in to your email or send your cover letter as an attachment. Formal letters follow a set layout: your name, address and contact details top right, the employer's name and address on the left, followed by the date. Start your letter 'Dear [name]' and end it with 'Yours sincerely', with your signature.
Follow a structure
Aim for three or four paragraphs with he following information:
The job you're applying for
The documents you're enclosing (your CV, application form, portfolio, test)
Why you want to do the job, and work for this company
Why they should hire you: your skills and experience
When you can start - and explanations for any gaps in your CV, or other issues
And finish by thanking the addressee for their time, and hope that you'll be called for interview.
Make it stand out
Remember that your cover letter is the first thing that you'll be judged on. So think about how you can make it stand out, and even be an interesting read. Perhaps you can cut some waffle, and make your personality and enthusiasm come through more. Be sure that you've shown how much you know about the company and its activities.
Keep it error free
Check your draft for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. If you're not confident about either, get someone else to read it. In very competitive recruitment processes, mistakes can get your application put to the bottom of the pile.
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