A cover letter is an introduction to you and your CV. It’s therefore the first impression an employer has of you. That makes it absolutely vital for your prospects of landing any job. Here’s how you can ensure you write cover letters that make your first impression a good one.

Short and simple

Ideally you should keep a cover letter to no more than one page in length. If it can be shorter than this, even better. If you can’t sell yourself in half a page, chances are you can’t with far more space. It’s also smart to include your cover letter in the body of an email, as attachments can sometimes be lost in transit.

Get the basics right

There are a few simple things you should always do in a cover letter but that are sometimes overlooked. They include: Addressing it to the specific person recruiting for this role Making it clear what position you’re applying for (include this in the subject line of your email too) Mentioning when you’re available for interview Explaining when you’re available to start Including all relevant contact details These main seem obvious, but they can really annoy recruiters if they aren’t included.

Nail the ‘why’

The key to a good cover letter is nailing the ‘why’ – making it crystal clear why you’re perfect for this role.To do this, you need to show that you understand the requirements of the role, and that your experience and skills perfectly match these requirements. It sounds simple, but you need to explain this in concise and punchy fashion. So get to the point quickly, and be specific – name the key skills and experiences that prove you are the right person for the job.

Flatter them

It’s also important to explain what attracted you to apply. Remember that this company will be very proud of what they do, and very excited about hiring someone equally exciting. So, show that you care about what they do, and that you’ve done your research on them. You don’t need to be overly complimentary but showing your interest in them is always a wise move.

Don’t be negative about leaving

When explaining your current position and why you’re now looking elsewhere, it’s vital that you frame it in a positive way. Complaining about your current role will actually be a concern for a prospective employer – they will worry that history could repeat itself. Instead, explain how this role represents the next step in your career – show them that you’re ambitious.

Spend lots of time proofing

It’s remarkable how often cover letters contain small grammatical errors. Think of it this way: if this position has lots of applications, a recruiter might not be looking for reasons to progress with someone, but reasons to dismiss a CV. And if you allow a mistake to slip through the net, you’ve given them a simple reason to dismiss yours. Check and re-check your cover letter and get someone else to check too. Keep your language and grammar simple to avoid potential pitfalls. Don’t let all your hard work be put to waste.