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A winning Cover Letter.

This probably looks to you as straight forward topic to you but be sure there are people who still get the cover letter wrong at this age. Today, we will concentrate on giving you tips and components of a good cover letter. Just as a point of note, there are so many questions surrounding the sending your CV and cover letter through email.  Job seekers are concerned whether to send an emails’ body as the cover letter or attach it as an attachment. Please do both for the sake of the employer because they may want to print the cover letter for records and thus in this case they will prefer an attachment and because you want to express your need in an organized manner once someone opens your email, have it also as the body of the e-mail.
There should be basic components of a cover letter which if a human resource executive looks at, he will immediately see you through it.
Ø  It should be clear and explanatory with a lot of precision.
Ø  The font should be the same as that on the CV. If you have two different fonts it shows a little bit of clumsiness.

Ø  Short and brief with very few facts that are in the job requirements. Be careful not to be over-repetitive in your letter and the information in the CV. Here we mean that the information may be a little bit similar but much summarized.
Ø  Plain English is the way to go. Don’t get very funny vocabulary from the cupboard with the intention of pleasing or scaring the panelist with your language prowess. It is OK to bring in a few adverbs but be careful not to overdo it. This may hurt your chances.
Ø  Don’t target to cover the whole page of a paper but look organized from the work of your hands because this is the first thing an employer will read.
Ø  Make sure your grammar at this level is perfect and use the ‘spell checker’ and ‘grammar’ features if need be. Do away with typos and as I told you this is the first impression you will make to an employer.
Now we will straight look at the important features of a cover letter:
1.   Your contacts and date: At the top right, you should put your contacts especially the telephone number you can be contacted through easily. Employers find it very annoying when they call a number only to find it on voicemail. This section should include your physical or post office address, the telephone number and the date the letter is drawn. Please give all the contacts that you have for example if you have a landline, there is no harm in giving it. The date is also very important just for the sake of the employer because e has a deadline for applications.
2.   Employer contact and address: At this section you need to be very careful who to address the letter to. Check the job advert very well and see if the address should be to the human resource manager or to the manager. I know companies like ‘Radio Africa’ prefer a letter addressed to the GM. This may look as a small issue but just imagine if the letter is meant to be addressed to the HR and you send it to the CEO. He will receive the letter and maybe redirect it or not. It may be even checked after the deadline. Be careful.
3.   Salutation: The word ‘Dear Sir/ Madam’ looks so obvious but be careful because it is not. Is you salute both sir and madam while the HR guys have knowledge that you know the sex of their HR manager, wore unto you. This salutation should be used only when not sure of the sex of the addressee. Just imagine a situation where there was a graduate recruitment and the HR manager introduced him/ herself, it will look as if you were not attentive in doing this.
4.   The reference or declaration of intention/ Main subject:   The job advert should guide you in this. If a reference number is given, make sure you give it here but more so please state the position you are applying for. The subject line has two main areas, declaration of intention and the position applied for. At a glance, the reader should tell what you are applying for and what the letter is all about.
5.   The main body: The body contains three parts just like any other composition:
·         Introduction: This is where you state your intention to apply for the earlier mentioned position, where you found out of its existence and your pleasure of occupying the office.
·         The body: This should tell in brief why you feel you are best suited to take up the job. In this area explain your academic qualifications and other skills but don’t go into details, if you can raise the curiosity of the reader to go to your CV to find out more.
·         The conclusion. Make a conclusive and appreciative approach to this section. Show gratitude if a response is received.
6.   The sign off and signature:  The most common used sign offs are, ‘yours faithfully’, ‘yours sincerely’ and ‘kind regards.’ The first thing you should ask yourself before inventing your own sign off is the purpose of this section. It generally should tell the reader that all the information stated above is true and represents the writer of this letter. After the sign off statement, put your signature in biro and then your name thereafter. This may look simple but people get it wrong very often.

A cover letter is the best way you can create interest in the reader to proceed to your CV. Just like the composition we used to write in primary and secondary school, the first paragraph determines the interest that the reader will get into your work. Remember you are not present at the short listing process and thus the papers that represent you should be in perfect shape.

We wish you all the best.

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