We all know that writing a CV is so important in your job search. However, 53% of employers think a resume is simply just not enough to grab their attention. Therefore, you should be attaching a cover letter to your job application to ensure that you stand out from the crowd.
Yet, incredibly surprisingly, only a tiny 47% of job seekers attach cover letters to their application.
And all this means is that over half of you are missing out on the opportunity to really WOW employers.
Tips for writing a cover letter
I can speak from experience that knowing what to write in a cover letter is difficult. It is hard to know where to start, what to include and how to show off… without showing off. I imagine that a lot of you aren’t including cover letters for just that reason: you don’t know what to write.
So, here are some tips on how to blow the mind of potential employers…
First thing first, layout…
- You should always include your contact information, and the employers contact information, in the first section of your cover letter. Your contact details should be on the left hand side and underneath, on the right hand side, should be the employers contact details.
- The first paragraph should include information on the position you are applying for. In this section, you should include the job title, how you heard about the job (e.g., LinkedIn, Indeed) and say a few words on why you think you are the perfect candidate.
- The second paragraph should discuss what you can offer. Your relevant qualifications, your skills and your experience. In this cover letter section, include specific examples of your skills and experience.
- The final paragraph should conclude the cover letter. Thank the employer for considering you for the position and include information on how they can follow you up or when you might be free for an interview.
- You should then sign the letter off using ‘your sincerely, [full name]’.
Note: all font should be single spaced and left-justified, with the exception of your address which is right-justified. Font should be simple, such as Arial or Times New Roman, and it should be no smaller than 10-pt but no larger than 12-pt.
So now you know what to include, heres five top tips on how to really make your cover letter the best it can possible be.
1. Do your research first
Before you even put pen to paper, find out more about the company and the specific job you’re applying for.
What are their core values, what are their goals and missions?
Hopefully, you’ll be applying for the position because you like the company, and therefore your values, beliefs and goals will align. Use this research in your first paragraph to demonstrate how you are the ideal candidate. For example, “I believe I am an ideal candidate for the role because, just like you, I have a passion for making the world a greener place by 2030”. This sounds better than simply “I believe I am the ideal candidate because I am organized, diligent and confident”.
Taking the time to research appeals to the employers ego. It shows you care and that, most importantly, you want to work for THEM because, what they do, what they want to do and what they believe is so truly amazing.
2. Tailor your cover letter to the company
Just like sending generalised a CV is, ultimately, a waste of time, so it sending generalised and non-specific cover letters. It is not enough to simply change the employer’s address and the job title name. Employers get hundreds of job applications, they can tell when you’ve just attached a general CV and cover letter to them.
You’ve wowed your potential employer in your first paragraph, now make it clear in the rest of your letter that you’re all about them. Make it about how you match what they’re looking for. Clearly demonstrate how your skills and qualities match what they asked for in the job description. For example, if they want someone who is has displayed leadership skills, give a very clear example of a time you were a team leader.
3. Keep it short
We all know that employers get hundreds of job applications and whilst a cover letter will certainly help you to stand out, you don’t want to bore them.
As a general rule, your cover letter should be no more than a page. A short, but sweet, cover letter means that potential employer can concisely see how amazing you are, without getting bored or frustrated.
4. Proof read like your life depends on it
It goes without saying that you should spend some time proof reading every cover letter you write.
It is crucial to ensure that there are no grammatical or spelling errors as many employers will seek to hire those who are proficient in english. Your cover letter is your opportunity to showcase your skills. Also, having errors in a cover letter shows poor attention to detail, which will not impress potential employers.
5. Be specific
Finally, the key to writing a strong cover letter is to give specific examples of your skills. One way that many people like to do this is to use numbers that demonstrate exactly what they’ve done, as these are easy to understand and have the wow factor. For example, giving an exact percentage of how much you increased sales in one year or an exact figure of how much money you’ve raised.
You should also use bullet points when writing your specific examples, as these stand out on the page.
Oh, and one final thing: avoid cliches like the plague. It is not original to be an ‘ excellent team player’. Neither is it very inventive to say that you ‘are very organized’… Everyone and their mother says that in their cover letter. Think of something more innovative, more specific, and something that you can back up with hard evidence.