It may surprise you to hear this, but the job covering/cover letter (or email) that you send when applying for a job is probably more important than your CV/resume in deciding whether you'll get a job interview or not.
Although you must make sure that your send a good CV/resume when applying for a job, whether your potential employer will ever look at it often depends on how good the job covering/cover letter you send with it is.
Why your job covering/cover letter is important
When companies advertise a vacancy, they'll receive lots of CVs/resumes (possibly hundreds). If they had to read each CV/resume they received, it would take them a very long time. So to help them choose the best candidates quicker, they often use the job cover/covering email to decide whose CV/resume to read and whose not to.
And they can use the job covering/cover letter to make this decision, because apart from it saying what job the person is applying for, it is basically a summary of the most important information from the CV/resume.
What makes a good one
So now you know why a job covering/cover letter is important, how do you write a good one? The answer is very simple, think from the perspective of the person/people you are sending it to. If you were in their position and you were going to be using it to decide whether to read your CV/resume or not, what would you be wanting to see when you read it?
In my opinion, for a job covering/cover letter to work (and get you an interview), it needs to:
- Contain all the information which an employer needs to know or is looking for.
- Only include information on your skills and experience which is relevant for the job you are applying for.
- Match what you've written on your CV/resume.
- Be structured so that it is both easy to read and the person can easily find the information they are looking for.
- Be short.
In addition to both what write about and how you structure it, the vocabulary which you use in it is important. You are selling yourself as the right candidate to the person or people reading it, so you need to use vocabulary and phrases which makes you sound professional in it. And you do this by using both formal vocabulary (e.g. oversee, conduct etc...) and vocabulary which is polite.
Fortunately, there are a lot of set professional sounding phrases and expressions which you can use in your own job covering/cover letter (which you'll see below). But before you use them, you need to be 100% sure that you are using them correctly.
Now you know the theory of what makes a good covering letter/email, use this in the exercise below. This exercise contains an example of a good job covering/cover letter and a quiz which is designed to help you create your own one more easily and both understand and remember the vocabulary which you should use in them.
Exercise & Example:
Read the following covering/cover letter from Juan Cruz for a sales executive position/job with a large multinational engineering company.
From the context, try to guess what the meaning and purpose of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.
I am writing in response to the advertisement for the position of a sales executive in the Madrid office of your company. I am confident that I would be an excellent candidate for both this position and for working within a company such as your own which has a reputation for excellence and innovation.
I am a highly motivated, diligent and committed individual, who throughout my 10 year career in sales has demonstrated the ability of being:
Goal-Orientated - Surpassing my annual sales targets every year of my professional career.
Adaptable - Having the ability to quickly learn and use new techniques, methodologies, strategies when selling a variety of different products.
Able to speak fluently in English - I have the Cambridge Advanced Certificate in English and use English on a daily basis in my current position.
I have extensive experience of working as a sales executive for two large multinational companies, Almagro Construction SA and Telefonica SA. During my time in Telefonica I have been responsible for several multi-million euro project negotiations that were conducted entirely in English and lead to Telefonica obtaining contracts that totalled a value of €61.3 million.
Please find attached a copy of my CV which expands on my experience and achievements.
I would welcome the opportunity to discuss further the possibility of working for you in this position. I am available to do an interview when it is convenient for yourselves.
If you have any questions, I can be reached on either my mobile (0034 71761231) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Below are 13 questions about the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use each word/phrase once. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.
When the answer is correct, this icon will appear next to the answer. Click on this for both extra information and a detailed explanation why this answer is correct.
Now that you understand the vocabulary and the structure, practise it by creating your own covering letter.