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How to write the perfect cover letter for your new contract

Paystream News

Kerry Hull

Wednesday 20th Sep, 2017

Life as a limited company contractor is different from permanent work in many ways, but the need to occasionally write cover letters when trying to land a new opportunity remains the same for everyone.

After all, there's more to winning an exciting contract than simply putting your name and credentials out there - you have to be able to convey your unique individual skill set, your genuine enthusiasm and the personal qualities you can offer over and above any other applicant.

The perfect cover letter can achieve all of these things and more - but it takes work to get it right. By following a few key pieces of advice, you can maximise your chances of putting yourself across in just the right way to secure the best contracts ahead of your competitors.

Covering the basics

Crafting a perfect cover letter sometimes requires a bit of outside-the-box thinking, but it's also important not to forget the basics of what the letter should achieve.

When putting the document together, you'll need to make sure you've properly introduced yourself and your skills, provided additional details on the most important points of your CV, and explained why you are suited for the job for which you're applying.

The letter should be tailored specifically to the position in question, meaning all the information needs to be both accurate and relevant; you'll also need to take the time to refine the formatting and weed out any mistakes, as sloppy presentation will kill your chances straight away.

Taking it a step further by making it personal

Getting the basic details right is vital, but, at the same time, you need to remember that a cover letter shouldn't be treated as a form to be filled out - it's a piece of communication that requires a personal touch.

As such, you should write in a way that reflects your personality, and the individual qualities you might bring to the contract. Find out more about the company's values and explain how they align with your own, or draw upon personal experiences and interests to demonstrate the genuine enthusiasm and commitment you can provide.

For an additional touch of personalisation, it's worth taking the time to find out the name of the hiring manager and addressing the letter to them directly, even if that means doing a bit of research on LinkedIn. Doing so will create a better sense of connection than a sterile "to whom it might concern".

Remembering the 'inverted pyramid' principle

When trying to work out how best to compose your covering letter, there's a principle called the "inverted pyramid" that can help guide the way you structure the information you're providing.

In simple terms, this involves making sure that the most relevant and important information is placed near the top of the letter, with the less essential details coming later on. The benefits of this approach should be fairly clear, as it means the recruiter will be able to see what you need them to see straight away - a vital consideration, given that many employers have only a short amount of time to skim-read each application.

Forming an emotional connection

Making a cover letter feel personal can give you a significant leg up on the competition, but the key to a perfect cover letter is to establish a sense of emotional connection in the mind of the reader.

That's why it's a good idea to take the time to really convey your passion and enthusiasm for the role, and to not be afraid to use emotive language to explain why you'd love a chance to work with the client in question. It's also why a few pleasantries won't go amiss - even if you want to avoid rambling, it won't hurt your letter to take the time to wish the recruiter good luck on the job search, and or express that you're sincerely looking forward to their reply.

By making the effort to connect on this level, you can make your application that little bit more memorable, which could potentially give you the crucial edge in a competitive market.

In summary a limited company contractors can increase their chances of landing that exciting new contract by putting together a great cover letter with the right structure and a personal touch.

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