A cover letter is an extremely important part of the job hunting process. This handy document is there to expand upon key points mentioned in your CV and show the employer why you’re the right person for the job. However, most of us recoil at the thought of writing one, let alone tailoring one for every application (yes – you need to do this!).
However, with our handy advice, you’ll be able to start applying for retail positions right away and secure yourself some interviews. Use the below as a guide to help you draft your main ‘cover letter’ and look out for tips on tailoring this to each role you apply to.
Research the company
Firstly, you need to consider the company that you’re applying to work in. Are you able to answer the following questions?
• Do you know who will be reading your letter?
• What are the key requirements of the job?
• What is the company like to work for?
• What’s happening in the industry?
• Did the company feature in the news recently?
If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘don’t know’ then it’s time to start your research. This will help you to tailor your cover letter and show why you’re the perfect fit for the role. Some job applications may specify who you need to contact. If not, do some digging online to see if you can find the name of the recruiter receiving your application.
Alongside this, gaining an understanding of what skills are necessary for the job will help you to match the requirements of the role and highlight any relevant experience you have. Finally, researching the company and what it’s like to work for will mean you can highlight a few key points in your letter to make it more relevant.
Use a clear structure
You should structure your cover letter like a formal business letter. This means including your address and contact details on the right hand side, as well as theirs, further down, to the left. See below for a clear overview of a recommended structure of your cover letter.
[Address Line 1]
[Address Line 2]
[Address Line 3]
[Company address line 1]
[Company address line 2]
Keep your opening paragraph short. It should explain why you’re writing the letter, the position you’re applying for and how you found out about the role. For example: “I am writing to apply for the role of Retail Assistant, in response to an advert I saw on Jobs Retail. Please find my CV attached.”
The second paragraph should expand on your CV and summarise any relevant skills or education you have. Remember, your cover letter shouldn’t go into more detail on the information mentioned in your CV. Mirror the skills that are used in the job description to boost your chances even further and go into detail on your most notable achievements.
The third paragraph is where you can showcase the research that you’ve done on the company. Pick out a few points about why you want to work for them specifically. You should state how you can help the company to build upon their success, as well as why you’ll fit in with the company culture and core values.
End your letter with a clear call to action. Let them know your availability for a callback about an interview. Alternatively, if you plan to follow up with a phone call, say so! If you’re nervous about appearing to keen, then close with “I look forward to hearing from you”. Thank them for taking the time to read your letter and sign off with:
Length of your cover letter
Generally, your cover letter should never span over one page. Remember, recruiters are busy people and they don’t have time to read through pages and pages of waffle. If you stick to the structure above and focus on including only the most relevant information, there should be no reason why your cover letter should get too long.
Hold your horses! Before you send your cover letter anywhere you need to give it a good proofread. When in doubt, give it to a friend or family member to read too. Silly mistakes such as poor grammar or typos could make a bad impression on the reader.
If it’s good to go, now it’s time to ensure you save it in the right format. Some companies may use Windows PCs (which use the .docx file extension), while others may use Macs (which use .pages). For this reason, it’s best to save your cover letter as a PDF to ensure there aren’t any formatting issues when the recipient receives it.
When it comes to sending your cover letter, ensure that the subject line is clear. For example: Application for Retail Assistant – Joe Bloggs.
Some employers may ask you to include a reference number so make sure you do so if this is the case. On job boards such as Jobs Retail, you can cut down the copy. Below is an example of what this might look like:
I am interested in applying for the current vacancy you have for a Retail Assistant.
In my current role as a Retail Assistant with Fresh Foods, I am responsible for ensuring that stock is constantly replenished, but am currently looking to make a step up into a more challenging role with a reputable company who can offer career growth.
I am currently on a notice period of one week and can interview immediately.
Your cover letter should be as concise as possible. Don’t be afraid to cut out any waffle and only include the most relevant information. Here are some final points to remember:
1. Keep it short
A recruiter will probably spend about 30 seconds scanning your cover letter. Keep your document to one A4 page to be safe.
2. Don’t re-write your CV
You need to expand on information in your CV, not repeat it. Pick out your most relevant experience and give examples of how you’ve excelled in your role.
3. Tailor it to every role
Your cover letter needs to be as relevant as possible. Scan the job description for the key skills required and ensure you showcase that you possess these attributes.
4. Sending online
You don’t want to risk the reader not being able to open your letter. Ensure you save it in the right format and stick to a PDF just in case.
Before you send your cover letter off anywhere, give it a good proofread. You could even ask someone else to look at it to ensure there aren’t any mistakes.
6. Avoid clichés
Similar to CVs, no recruiter wants to read a cover letter that’s littered with jargon. Avoid phrases about being a team player and use examples instead.
7. Quantify your claims
Try to use numbers to back up what you’re saying. For example: ‘I assisted customers with their shopping on a daily basis, resulting in a 27% increase in our customer satisfaction rates.’
8. Use bullet points
Dependent on the role, it may be worth using a few bullet points to highlight your successes. Don’t worry if this is too much trouble – it’s not necessary. But, it’s a good way to break up text.
Upload your CV today and start searching for relevant retail jobs!