Best Practices in Cover Letter Writing

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Why A Cover Letter Is Necessary

A cover letter is like a sales pitch! This is what summarises all your skills, experience and capabilities for the job you are applying for. It gives you the opportunity to tell a story. It should be brief and straight to the point. Most candidates make the mistake of copy-pasting the same cover letter for all the jobs applied for. This is a huge error and it’s where most candidates go wrong. A cover letter adds focus to your resume.

In most job adverts it is a requirement for one to send their CV and Cover Letter. Unfortunately, most candidates don’t know the purpose of this letter. They treat a cover letter as just any other document required in the application process. For those who know the reason of having one, they make mistakes when sending out the application and as a result, employers and recruiters end up not reading them.

In this article, we’ll make a case on why your CV should always be accompanied by a Cover Letter and most importantly how to send this important document so that employers don’t have a choice but to read it. This way, you’ll increase the chances of getting an interview.

The Importance of A Cover Letter

  • It allows you to target the job and the employer in a very specific way. This is why you should never use the same cover letter over and over again. Always read and understand the job that you are applying for and this is what will guide you in writing a cover letter
  • A cover letter is a tool for you as a candidate to tell the employer what you find attractive in the job that matches your skills and why you want to work for them. It should not be a copy paste of your resume. It’s what makes you stand out from the crowd.
  • Use a cover letter as a teaser. What does this mean? Engage the employer in the cover letter to make them want to know more about you.
  • It gives you the opportunity to present your opportunities and accomplishments which is a good practice for job-search strategy.

Employers dislike long paragraphs so ensure that you follow the following principles to writing a great cover letter!

  • Be brief
  • Identify yourself
  • Exhibit your passion
  • Sell your qualifications
  • Make it easy to read

Whether you are a fresh graduate or a senior level career individual, you need a cover letter. There’s no exception since employers and recruiters expect to see one. Here is how to get the important document to work for you;

Demonstrate Why You’re An Ideal Candidate

I deal candidate

The CV does not afford you sufficient space to expound on your skills and accomplishments in details; otherwise, it would be a very lengthy document. It is through a cover letter that you demonstrate why you are the most suitable candidate for the role. For example, if it’s an administration job and one of the requirements is a candidate able to manage a team of ten, your cover letter should provide details of how you went about managing your juniors by setting targets, and monitoring and appraising their performance. In this example, mention the number of staff you supervised, including their titles and provide as much information as possible. Paint the picture for the reader.

With a cover letter, you can also pick a requirement and provide more details on how you’ve performed the same in your current or previous job. If for example, you are in the sales profession and the job you are applying for requires a candidate to open new markets, you should demonstrate how you were responsible for establishing a new branch, say in Mombasa. Outline in details the steps you took, the challenges you faced and what you learnt. Lastly, point out how the new employer can utilise that experience.

How To Capture Salary Details

At times, an employer will request that you indicate your current or last pay and desired salary. This information should be presented in the cover letter. Provide the details in the last paragraph as per this example, “my current/last gross pay is K.sh 50,000 and I am expecting an increase of 15% to 30% to be discussed further based on the clarification of the duties and responsibilities, and if there are other benefits.”

Information to Include in Cover Letters

cover letter writing

  • Addressing Cover Letters

Your full names, home address and the application date should be at the top. Then state the name or job title, company name and address of the employing organisation. Address the letter stating the name of the person; if unknown use the Sir/Madam title. The subject line should indicate the job position you’re applying for and the job reference number (if given).  Ensure proper pronunciation and punctuation as it showcases your writing abilities.

  • Introductory paragraph

The first paragraph should simply state why you are writing to them. If it is an advertised position, mention the position title stating where it was advertised. An easy way to start this paragraph is with the following statement: “I write to you regarding the above position, as advertised on BrighterMonday.” You should also state the job position and your highest qualification for the job.

  • Main Body

It should comprise of two to three paragraphs at most. Summarise your experience and skills as well as respond to the position requirements in a few sentences. Highlight how specialised you are, your experience and how you are the perfect match for the job. Paint a picture by giving examples stating precisely how you accomplished a given task listing actions and the positive results of those actions. Remember to always sell yourself.

  • Closing Paragraph

This is where you ask for an interview, showing your willingness to work for that particular company/organisation. It should also state how they can reach you, thanking the recipient for taking their time to read and review your application. Finish the letter by adding a closing remark, either “yours sincerely” or “yours faithfully”. Leave a space for your signature and then place your full name.

How to Send A Cover Letter

Sending a cover letter

95% of employers will expect you to make an online application. With that in mind, how should you send a cover letter?  For maximum impact, always copy paste the contents of the cover letter in the email body. The reason why you should copy paste is because the cover letter should be the first thing a recruiter reads when they open your email. And it’s a much better way of introducing yourself than having one line saying please find attached my CV and cover letter.

Is there a difference between an application letter and cover letter?

Recruiters normally get this question from those beginning their careers and my answer is, there’s no difference. Both refer to the same document. Whether you call it a cover letter or an application letter, the purpose is the same. It is a document that you send together with your CV to provide additional information on your skills and experience. Both typically provide detailed information on why you are qualified for that job you are applying for.

Lastly, be mindful of the length of your cover letter.  Regardless of your qualifications and skills, a cover letter should be at most one page. And you do this by only providing relevant information. If at one time you did sales, customer service and now you are in accounting and applying for an accountant job, you have no business outlining the sales or even customer service experience. Expound on what you’ve done or learnt as an Accountant. As a rule, restrict yourself to the job requirements.

From the above, you can see that you need a different cover letter for every job.  It is okay to have a general cover letter that summarises your skills, achievements and strong points but always make an effort to tweak an application to fit the specific needs of an employer. No two jobs or employers are the same, even when they are from the same industry. It’s through the cover letter that you demonstrate the skills, attitude and expertise to perform the job as per the expectations of the employer. And employer’s expectations are outlined in the job description/advert.

The cover letter’s sole purpose is to get the recipient to read your CV. It should be clear and concise. It should be on one page and easy to read. Include only the absolute necessary information as pertaining to the job requirements.

 

Mueke Katwa
I have two years experience in Business Support which covers Human Resource as a function; and a lifelong passion in creative writing.
 

195 COMMENTS

    • We are glad you feel that way Anee.
      Feel free to write to us if you need further assistance.

      ^TM

    • Thanks Odondi
      We are glad you have benefited from reading this article.
      Keep it here and you will learn more.

      ^TM

    • You’re welcome Morgan.
      Implement the tips you learned here and you will see the results.
      All the best and feel free to write to us if you need further advice.

      ^TM

  1. Suppose they ask you to send cover letter, CV, and other documents, doesn’t that mean all these documents should be attached?

    • Hi Ruttoh,
      Thank you for reading.
      To answer you, its not necessary, you only send your documents upon the request of the employer from their job description and you can either send them online if the job demands or send a hard copy. The important thing which you should consider doing before sending them is to ensue that you have updated them especially your CV and cover letter. We have articles which we have written on the same that can help you. Read the article here https://www.brightermonday.co.ke/blog/get-acv-template-works/ for cv updating and cover letter, click and read here https://www.brightermonday.co.ke/blog/get-acv-template-works/

      We hope we have answered your question and if you need more advice on this feel free to write back to us.

      ^TM

      Regards,

  2. I love the way you address every word and sentence to make it meaningful,it gives confidence even b4 gettn to the job.thanks and continue with this god job.

    • Thanks Shadrack.
      for you to get that job, simply implement the tips you have learned here. Let us know if you need further assistance.

      ^TM

  3. in regard of your article i have benefited a lot of things to which i was black
    thank you good team. now i know the proper way to write a cover letter

    • Thanks Shaban,
      We are glad to be of benefit to you and it is our hope that you implement all what you have gained from us. We wish you all the best and if there is a point that you need more clarity feel free to write back to us.

      ^TM

  4. Thank you.
    I propose you give a brief insight on how to write a cover letter for beginners in the job industry. You find that they are the ones mostly affected by writing techniques.
    Thanks ones more

  5. You people are just wonderful, informative and caring,this information is the right one for job seekers,

    • Hi Kenneth,
      To answer you on that, a CV is a document containing the details of applicant’s academic qualifications, professional experience and past history while a cover letter is attached to a CV or resume and it gives a brief description of the applicant to the potential employer.

  6. thank you guys for letting me know how to start an intro in cover letter seriously i had no idea…thank you once again

    • You’re welcome Dante.
      Its only here where you can get such good tips so keep it here.

      ^TM

  7. Wow,perfect job,an important prerequisite in jib seeking rather advancing higher in jib hierarchy.

    • Hi Erick,
      Having a cover letter together with your CV is very important since it summarises all your skills, experience and capabilities for the job you are applying for.

      Now that you know the importance and how to write the cover letter, start implementing it. This will help you get positive feedback from employers. ^AN

    • Hi Samuel,

      Thank you for appreciating and learning from the article. We urge you to put in practice what you have learnt about cover letters and CV writing and see how it will greatly improve your job search experience. ^AN

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for reading.
      We are glad you are enlightened what should follow next , is for you to implement all what you have read.

      ^TM

  8. Wow!This is so enlightening.I have been attaching my cover letter, now i know better.Thank you

    • Hi Maria,
      Thank you for reading.
      There is still room for more improvement just keep it here.

      ^TM

    • You’re welcome Clement and for you to benefit, implement all what you have gained and it will work for you.

      ^TM

    • Hi Fransisca,
      Thank you for reading.
      We wish you all the best and please dont sit back, use the available opportunities on our site and implement the tips you’ve read here and it will work for you.

      ^TM

  9. Maybe that is the reason I have never even been called for an interview. Thanks I will try my best now that I know

  10. its a great work you guys are doing, i will take your advice with all attention it deserves.
    thanks big.

    • Thanks Marx.
      We highly appreciate your support and please stay tuned because we got more installed for you.

      ^TM

    • You’re welcome Ally.
      Be blessed too and if you have any question, feel free to write back to us.

      ^TM

  11. Insightful, precise and indispensable. I am happy I was doing it the right way; albeit unknowingly 😊 Looking forward for an interview or two from the many applications I have placed recently. Was afraid no one reads them but now I am very positive and inspired.
    Thanks BM for being there for people like us!

  12. For the last two years, I have been applying for various jobs via your website, http://www.brightermonday. co.ke.I have a well-set out profile, unfortunately i have never been invited for any job interview so far and i strongly believe that the format of the cover letters i have been using is my biggest undoing.
    Could you kindly send me the format of cover letter that can work for me as far as your website is Concerned.

    • Hi Adan, we will send you a sample that will guide you. There are also other contributors, like if you have not updated your CV or you have not recently updated your profile. Here https://goo.gl/Eew7qx is a template that can help you. Aside from that you need to be keen on the jobs you apply..more focus should be on jobs that matches your qualification and also when you apply, make sure its immediate. Check you inbox for the sample and if you need further assistance, feel free to write back to us.

      ^TM

  13. hi,
    does a cover consists of address,date and telephone numbereg

    Bridget Mongare
    p.o. box 92065
    g.po nairobi
    16th june 2017
    tel 0722123456

    • Hi Caroline,
      Thank you for inquiring, the details you have shared are important are in a cover letter and should be inclusive but in a good format. Kindly read here http://bit.ly/2tXfx7N and get more tips on how to draft and inclusive you will find a sample. If you need more assistance feel free to get back to us.

      ^TM

  14. Hi
    when writing the cover letter are we supposed to use the block style format indented style.. and what is the format please

  15. Hello,

    First and foremost, allow me to appreciate you for the important tips you offer us freely.
    My concern regards cover letter. Currently, most jobs are advertised and applications made online. However, most firm/ company address and whom to address the letter to is rarely available. In other cases, you find agent email address. How do you handle the address part in the mentioned scenarios.

    • Hi Nereah,
      Thank you for reading.
      If it is not provided, just make sure that you include the basic details to introduce you, to mention the job (or kind of job) you’re applying for (or looking for), to match your skills and experiences with the skills and experiences required by the job, and lastly to encourage the reader to read your resume. so with or without the postal or email address , just make sure that the basics details are there.

      ^TM

  16. kindly requesting for a sample cover letter,i have made several applications and i dont know why i havent received any feedback to show up for the interview

    • Hi Kipngetich,
      Thank you for writing to us.
      We have a sample that can guide you. Kindly check your inbox and respond to our customer service email.

      ^TM

  17. Hello, great tips to work on. However, when applying on line we cannot sign our cover letters. Is that okay or is it a deal breaker?

    • Hi Ali,
      Thank you for contacting us.

      When sending your cover letter through an online portal, it is okay to include your names and best regards as your signature. This should not affect your application from being received by the employers.

      All the best from us. ^AN

    • Hi Raphael,
      Thank you for asking this question.
      It depends on the request of the client. If they want it hand written or typed from your end you only need to abide by the instructions but more importantly ensure that it is customized for every application. Read here http://bit.ly/2vgYRIb and inclusive find a sample guide.

      ^TM

  18. Very informative. Kindly i need one for automotive/mechanic. And if any vacant arise from your client connect me plz.

  19. Very informative. If on the job advertisement they didn’t leave an address to send applications to, how should one handle that?

    • Hi Maina,
      If you are referring to a job that you applied through Brighter Monday then the mode of application is by clicking through the apply button not unless a job description indicates one to apply via a c email address. If it is via other sites then in most cases you will apply via email.

      ^TM

      • Thanks so much brighter Monday I like the good job you’re doing to help many people on several issues regarding employment matters. Be blessed.

    • Hi Bernard,
      Thank you for reading.
      Implement the tips you’ve learned here and you will see the results.

      ^TM

  20. I find your articles very informative. I am especially thankful for the clarification on how to send a cover letter.

    • Hi Samira,
      Thank you for reading.
      We are glad that you are now well equipped. Keep it Brighter Monday your career partner.

      ^TM

  21. Thank you for the information which has been so helpful. In case you are applying in an organization that has not posted an advert anywhere,which is the best way to start your introduction?

    • Hi Teresa,
      It would not be appropriate to apply for a job that doesn’t exist because there are high chances that you will not get any feedback. Its even better you drop your CV because at least that way you will have a one on with who ever is in charge with recruitment so make sure that you apply only to jobs that are advertised. You will have a good introduction that way. All the best.

      ^TM

  22. Only the blessed do what u have done,the guides are very very informative,they carry the button to career growth.keep it up.

    • We are also blessed to have you amongst our readers Jesse because such feedback motivates us to even go an extra mile. We will surely keep on doing what we do best..that is to ensure we give our audience relevant and practical tips to enhance their career growth.

      ^TM

    • Thanks Micheal,
      We appreciate your feedback. Ensure you dont repeat the mistakes and if you need more advice feel free to write to us, we are willing to correct you.

      ^TM

  23. Waa ,I was off the hook for I have been applying jobs without this vital credential. Thanks brighter Monday for chanuaring me.

    • You’re welcome Wellington,
      We are here to give you relevant and practical that will help you. Twakutakia kila la heri!

      ^TM

  24. Thanks, I’ve just learnt a mistake I’ve done a few hours ago when presenting my papers for a job. I swear not to repeat it again.

    • Hi Mike,
      Dont beat your self up because of one mistake, it happens to all of us. What you should be keen on, is not repeating them. Keep visiting our Blog more often and these mistakes will be easily avioided. All the best.

      ^TM

    • You’re welcome Moses, your feedback is highly appreciated.
      Keep it here and you will learn more.

      ^TM

  25. hi this is educative…i was kindly what if you are self employed and they tell to start your current salary how do you go about it.

    • Hi Grace,
      Thank you for reading.
      With regards to you question, if you are self employed you can give an estimate because it is a requirement. If you dont include it could limit your chances of being considered so please include.

      ^TM

  26. Hi, Thanks for the information,
    If for example an employer specifies that a cover letter should range between 200-600 words, is it wrong if you write short of or in excess of what they had specified?

    • Hi levi,
      Thank you for reading.
      To answer you, you should always go by the employers instructions and even if they have not instructed the requirement should be 2000 characters. Our site has strictly ensured job seekers should include the required characters for every job they apply.

      ^TM

    • You’re welcome Edward,
      It is helpful if you put them into practice so, our advice is for you to do that.

      ^TM

  27. Am glad for this important information, especially what needs to be captured in the cover letter. I believe it will be of great help in my future job applications just as it will to the rest of your readers. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Edward,
      Thank you for liking the read and for your encouragement. We will do our best to educate our users on matters concerning the job market. Keep it here! ^AN

    • Hi Edward,
      We trust that you have a learnt a thing or two from the article. Keep them in practice and we believe something good will come soon. ^AN

  28. Thanks, this article is very educative and informative. I hv learnt much frm it and the rest of your articles. Please continue with the same spirit.

    • Thanks Charles,
      We also appreciate your audience.
      After you have graduated, make sure that you utilize our site to search for your dream job. All the best!

      ^TM

  29. hi
    Thank you for your profound information.
    i was wondering if you could also give information or tips on how to answer common interview questions. Thank you

    • Thanks Thomas,
      We appreciate your feedback and you would help us also if you share this information to your peers. Stay tuned for more.

      ^TM

    • Thanks Alice,
      Make sure that you put into practice what you have learned.
      We also wish you a blessed career.

      ^TM

  30. Hi, am humbled for the good work and the information, I have been doing some silly mistakes but now,am good to go. Thanks

    • Your welcome Annette,
      We are glad you have learned from your mistakes,. we wish you all the best and let us know if you need more advice.

      ^TM

  31. This is awesome team please I suggest that you a least add samples of cover letter and a CV for a better and clear understanding thanks.

    • Hi Mfuneni,
      Thank you for reading and sharing your ideas.
      We will put them into consideration in the meanwhile use the sample we have shared..it has the basics you need.

      ^TM

    • Hi Mbijiwe,
      Thank you for showing interest however, not to disappoint you, its important to understand that we are an online job site and you need to apply online and that is only if you have an account. If you dont kindly resister here http://bit.ly/1XYlE7R so that you are able to apply jobs that matches your talent. Feel free to get back to us if you have questions.

      ^TM

    • Thanks Peterson.
      We appreciate your participation on the topic.
      Keep reading our articles for more enlightening Career advice.

      ^TM

    • Hi Wilberforce,
      We are glad that our articles have inspired you a long way. We will be glad to hear your testimony soon. ^AN

  32. i have tried to put my cover letter on a certain job application but everything appears on one paragraph what happened?

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