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How to write the perfect cover letter

Paper mess

So you’ve got your killer hospitality CV safely tucked under your belt. But before you can apply for that perfect job, there’s still one more thing you have to do: write a great cover letter.

Some experts say you’ve got just 40 seconds to grab your reader's attention before they start getting distracted, so the key thing to remember is that your letter must be concise and to the point while still showing you to be a passionate and worthwhile candidate.

 

Do your research

Before you flex your fingers and reach for the keyboard, take some time to research the company and study the job spec in detail. Demonstrate what you’ve learned about the company and the position to show that you’re not just using the same letter for each application.

First paragraph - introducing yourself

Keep it short and snappy. State your name, the position you’re applying for, how you found it, and what your current job function is. Include a sentence or two about why you think you‘re especially suited to the position.

Second paragraph - your experience

This will form the main part of your letter and it’s the bit where you can cut loose and really sell yourself. List here:

  • Your level/years of experience
  • Qualifications or training you have that's relevant
  • Characteristics and skills that make you suitable for the job 

If you’ve just graduated, focus more on the level of education you’ve achieved and what you can offer. If you’ve been in work for some time, focus on your experience — employers will be more interested in that than what you did for your degree ten years ago. The same applies if you’re changing careers; your transferable skills are key here.

Think of it as an extended personal statement; you don’t have to brag, but don’t be afraid to highlight specific achievements. But don’t forget the golden rule: always back your claims up with facts and figures!

Third paragraph - why you want to work for them

This paragraph is all about showing how keen you are to integrate into the company itself. You can approach this from any angle, for instance:

  • What sets this company apart from its competitors?
  • How is it similar or different to its competitors? Why is this good?
  • What values does it have that you hold in high regard?
  • Are you looking for a new challenge, or do you simply want to take the next step with your career?

You will be looked upon favourably if you come across as genuinely interested in your potential employer. But don’t suck up — they’ll see right through it.

Fourth paragraph - the conclusion

Again, keep it short and sweet. Never sign off with ‘I look forward to hearing from you’ — you’re inviting a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ response. Instead, opt for something like ‘I look forward to discussing my candidacy/the position with you further.’

  • If you do know the recipient’s name, sign off with ‘Yours sincerely’
  • If you don‘t know the recipient’s name, use ‘Yours ‘faithfully’

Make the effort to find a contact name to whom you can address your letter. Most good job ads will include contact details and many HR departments will give you a contact name if you explain why you want it.

Don’t take your own word for it

Whenever you write anything, get someone to look over it with a fresh pair of eyes. By the time, you’ve finished typing, deleting, cutting, copying and pasting a letter together you’ll have become pretty blind to any errors. And a cover letter full of typos and bad grammar will do you no favours.


Related articles:

- How to write a killer hospitality CV 
- Who's looking at you, kid?
- Should I dumb down my CV?
5 things to avoid on your hospitality CV

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