There’s a very easy way to work out what to include in your cover letter: look at the job posting. Treat the specification like a question that you are answering and exactly match your skills and experience to the job requirements. If you are switching careers and don’t exactly match what the job posting is looking for, use the space to make a case for your transferable skills. A typical cover letter should be no more than one page long. Start with your name and contact details, and don't forget to date the letter. Address your letter to the relevant person, rather than addressing it as ‘To whom it may concern’. To be effective, your cover letter should address three main issues, a paragraph for each:
A positive, formal introduction outlining:
- Basic information about yourself.
- Listing the documents you have enclosed (such as your CV, requested certificates).
- What do you know about the organization or how you learned about it.
- State the job vacancy (State the job you’re applying for, including the job ad reference number),how you learned of the vacancy (Advert in a newspaper, ad banner on the Internet etc.).
- In some cases, you may have been referred to a potential employer by a friend or acquaintance. Be sure to mention this mutual contact, by name, up front since it is likely to encourage your reader to keep reading.
- If no specific opening has been advertised be sure to state what your job objective is.
Outline why you are interested in the role and the organization and how the opportunity fits into your career aspiration.
Mention how your particular abilities and experiences relate to the position for which you are applying. Mention specific qualifications which make you a good fit for the employer’s needs. Emphasize your achievements and problem-solving skills.
Close the letter out positively and proactively. Re-emphasize your interest in the position and your availability for an interview. Indicate that you would like the opportunity to interview for a position. Make sure you list the various methods of contacting you and that all your contact information is accurate. State that you are willing to provide all further requested information. you may indicate that your references are available on request. Also, if you have work samples to support your qualifications, state their availability. You may want to include an extra paragraph to explain any personal circumstances such as an unemployed period or a career change. You may also state when you're available to start work if you are selected. Finally, thank the employer and say you look forward to hearing from them soon.
By Ahmed El Sherbiny
Human Resources Operations Senior Advisor; Microsoft Egypt