A strong cover letter can get your foot in the door. In today’s fast-paced job market, many candidates dismiss cover letters as a waste of time, not realising the persuasive punch they can pack.
In fact, 86% of hirers think that a well-written cover letter is a valuable resource in the recruitment process. Your CV is naked without it! Think of it as the elevator pitch for your CV. If done well, it will grab the recruiter’s attention and make them want to review your application.
So, here’s how to write a cover letter that will win results.
1. Don’t be generic!
It’s astonishing just how many cover letters go along the lines of…
I am applying for the role of……… because I feel I have the skills to meet your requirements.
Please see my attached CV.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Take it from us seasoned recruiters – don’t even bother submitting a cover letter if that’s the content within it. It won’t get read and might actually hurt your application rather than help it.
Your cover letter is a prime opportunity to show that you’re different from all the other candidates in the market. It’s your chance to make an early connection with the employer and make them want to meet you. Don’t squander it with the world’s most generic content.
2. Show your research
No ifs, no buts – a cover letter must be tailored to the job you’re applying for. Within it, you need to show why you want the job, what skills you’d bring to do it exceptionally, and why you’d be a great cultural fit for the company. You can’t do that without ample company research!
Find out what the company does, how they are placed amongst their competitors, what their business plan and future goals are and what kind of values they embrace. You’ll then be able to show your knowledge of the company, demonstrating initiative and genuine interest. Plus, you’ll be able to identify the different needs that you could fulfil and show just how and where you’d fit in.
It might sound like a lot of work, but you need to make the company want to hire you. Candidates that make a clear effort to impress with their cover letter make it that much easier for employers to choose them over others.
3. Stick to cover letter etiquette
Ideally, your cover letter should be half to three quarters of a page long. That way, it’s long enough to make a persuasive point whilst still being focused. Remember to be clear and concise, with no pomp, no jargon, no buzzwords and no repetition. And obviously, make sure it’s grammatically correct with no errors.
You also need to stick to a clear format:
- Your opening paragraph needs to be short and arresting. Clarify why you’re writing and state the job you’d like to be considered for.
- Next, include a paragraph telling the recruiter why you’re interested in the role and why the company appeals to you. Be subtly flattering, be enthusiastic and demonstrate your research.
- Follow that with a paragraph showing the recruiter why they should hire you. Tell them about your skills, your qualifications, your goals and the values you’d bring to the table, making sure to make it relevant to the job. Compel the employer to interview you.
- Your final paragraph should request actions. State your willingness to interview, enquire about next steps and thank the recruiter for their time. Sign off with a formal “Regards” to maintain professionalism throughout.
4. Get personal
Keep in mind that a cover letter is an opportunity to show the recruiter who you are. Your CV is a highly corporate document, listing your various skills and experience. Whilst your cover letter should build on the information in your CV, it also allows you to inject some missing personality.
Try to blend in personality traits with the skills/accomplishments that you’re listing, especially if they add extra context to your application. Don’t just be stunted and formal – give the recruiter a bigger picture and show your personal brand. After reading a cover letter, the recruiter should have a taste of your personality and be able to envision what you’d be like in the job.
5. Stand out!
If you want that interview, you’re going to have to stand out from the competition. And there’s no better way to do that than with your cover letter.
So, do everything you can to differentiate yourself. Work in quotes from some of the people who’ve provided your references. Add an idea or two about what you’d do if you were to land the role. Offer hard facts and statistics to demonstrate the results you’ve driven in companies you’ve worked for. It’s all about stepping away from the basic, boring cover letter that recruiters receive in droves and showing your value.
Remember: next time you’re applying for a job, follow these five simple steps and make sure you’re harnessing the power of the cover letter.