Cover Letter Writing – Best Practices


A cover letter is meant to be a summary of your resume and is meant to be a direct letter written to the Hiring Manager or Recruiter as a statement to say why you should be considered for the job

The common question is “How long should a cover letter be?”  Not more than half a page in my view, anything else is too long and takes too much time to read.

The all-important question is “What must I include in my Cover Letter?”

  • Determine who you are addressing your Cover Letter to:
    • Ideally, you should know who’s going to be reading your Cover Letter– Try not to address your letter ‘To whom it may concern”
    • If you found the job through an online advert, it will probably name a person to send the application to. If it does not, call the employer or advertiser and ask who to send the application to.
    • Be creative in sourcing out the Hiring Manager / HR Manager or Recruiter’s name and contact details – This shows you went to some effort in finding out about the person you are addressing
    • Telephone is best but email them if you cannot find a contact phone number.
  • Introduce yourself – who are you?
    • Make sure you add – Your full name, contact details and your “unique selling points”.
    • For example, mine would say “Adrian Pillay – IT Specialist Recruiter with a Diploma in HR Management and 12 years recruitment experience within the IT industry.”
    • Also, highlight a very short list of your key skills and a summary of your capabilities.
  • Remember to speak their Language:
    • State clearly, the job (or kind of job) you are applying for
    • If you are addressing a Sales Manager for example, highlight your skills in Sales by adding numbers, stats, and sales achievements
    • Highlight the key skills for the role and experience match the skills and experience needed to do the job
  • Lastly, show gratitude and include A call to action –
    • Thank the reader for taking the time to read your Cover Letter and
    • End your letter with a call to action (for example, be direct in asking for an interview or a meeting and
    • include the easiest way to contact you, like your email, cell number or even WhatsApp if you are comfortable)

Now, with that said, what should you avoid in your Cover Letter?

  • Avoid Re-writing your entire CV – remember, the purpose of your Cover Letter to summarize your CV, focus in on the job you are applying
  • Typos or mistakes – use Spell Checker on Microsoft Word or Ask a family member, friend, or tutor to review your Cover Letter and be comfortable with the feedback they give you!
  • Using ‘I’ too much – although this is your Cover Letter, it is not all about you – make it more about the way you can add value to the role and the company itself.