Employers will expect to receive a cover letter along with your resume. A cover letter is like a sales pitch. In the space of a single page, you should state the reasons for your application and why you think you would be good for the job or course.
The letter could open with, 'I'm writing because I'm interested in this position and I feel I am an ideal candidate because...'. One paragraph should cover all these points, said Andrea Williams, managing director, Hong Kong at Ambition.
You should highlight the points that may differentiate you from others, including any special qualities and the added value you can bring to the organisation. 'Do not be afraid to appear overconfident as this is an opportunity for you to sell yourself,' she added.
Because school leavers have little work experience, they should think about what qualities the recruiters are looking for when they write the cover letters. Whether a company or a university, recruiters would like to know if the applicant is a good team player and how well the applicant can get on with other people in a difficult situation.
'You should think about how you can demonstrate [in the letter] that you are good in a mixed-type environment. That is where the extra-curricular activities, clubs and volunteer work become relevant,' Ms Williams said.
'Support your stated attributes with facts. You can say you are a strong team player, which is evidenced by the fact that you played in a sports team at high school, for example.'
The tone of the letter should be professional and polite and there should not be any abbreviated words and slang. It should be written in grammatically correct English. 'Always spell-check the letter and resume. It is ideal to have a native English speaker to help with the copy-editing,' she said.
You should try to use positive words, such as enthusiastic, keen and focused on. Because a cover letter should look neat, you should pay attention to the line spacing, font and size. Stick to an easy-to-read font and a point size of 11. When the resume and cover letter are sent via e-mail, applicants should ensure that the e-mail was well structured, Ms Williams said.