This is question I get asked frequently and the advice I always give is to follow this quick framework to guide you.
1. The cover letter should be 1 page long (no more)! Single line spacing
2. It should always (where possible) be address to a named person at the company you are applying to
3. Don’t forget to add today’s date. Type this out in full i.e. 24th March, 2015 (don’t put 24/3/15)
4. If you know the name of the person you are writing to, address it Dear Mrs. Smith. If you don’t have a name address it to Dear Sir/Madam
5. If you start your letter Dr. Mrs. Smith (or whatever their name is), end it Yours sincerely (capital Y and small s). If you start your letter Dear Sir/Madam, end it Yours faithfully (capital Y and small f).
6. Don’t address the person with their Christian name (i.e. Dear Ms Christine Ware). In this case it would be Dear Ms. Ware
7. Your first paragraph should state what you are applying for (the role) and where you saw it advertised (recruiting managers need to know this information)
8. The 2nd paragraph answers the question ‘why them‘. Tell them why you are applying to this particular company. What draws you to them, rather than other companies? Got any connections with them? Admire any of their work? Following them closely on social media? Whatever it is, write it down. Don’t be afraid to use a bit of flattery, but don’t have them reaching for the sick bucket when they read it. A happy medium will suffice 🙂
9. The 3rd paragraph answers the question ‘why you‘. This gives you an opportunity to say why you think you are the perfect match for this role. Pick out what they are looking for and tell them how you match those requirements
10. The 4th paragraph is the Close and ‘Call to Action‘. Mention in here any dates that you might not be available for interview. Don’t forget to add your mobile number (bold typeface), in there too (that’s your call to action). Then if they scan the letter and want to invite you in for interview, your number is right there in front of them.
11. After your ending line (Yours sincerely, or Yours faithfully), then leave a gap of about 3-4 lines and type in your name
That’s it – you are done! Simple enough and guaranteed to get your cover letter looking very professional!