A cover letter has become a somewhat forgotten part of the job application process by job seekers. You will find many job sites considering a cover letter as an “optional” addition when you are applying for a job. Many will use a basic template that is offered just to get it sent quickly. While your attached CV is incredibly important, it doesn’t tell the whole story about you as an applicant.
A cover letter is important because it allows you to target a specific job role and employer specifically. Consequently, this allows your CV to highlight your work experience, qualities and skills. Ultimately, this means you won’t have to completely change your CV for every job application as your covering letter will do all the hard work for you.
Better cover letters also don’t just repeat your CV in a shorter form. It should simply tell the employer why the job are an attractive prospect and what you can bring to it. All of your unique qualities and skills you can offer the company should be there - what makes you stand out from the crowd?
Below we break down the thought processes involved in crafting the perfect cover letter.
What do you want to achieve with your Covering Letter?
This is where a lot of job applicants will lose the role they want to get. Effort needs to be put into what you want to achieve with your covering letter - getting the job, most of all. Don’t just write a quick letter with little thought. Take the time to research the role and the company. Your letter must fit exactly what an employer is looking for.
After all, the goal of the applicant is to get the job and the goal of the employer is to find the best person for the job. Consider the industry you are applying in as finance, learning and technology all have different job requirements and expectations. Remember to read the job description carefully. Find out more about the company from their website and tailor your cover letter based on this information.
Address the person by their name
Using “sir or madam” is easy, however, it isn’t personal to the person you are writing to. Usually, the job description will have the name of the person who posted it. Use their name. If the name isn’t listed, perhaps you could call the recruitment company and ask for the name. It might seem like the smallest of things, but the effort will be noticed.
Briefly introduce yourself
Hiring managers will know who you are from the CV you have sent in. For this reason, you don’t need to repeat that in your letter. A brief introduction is enough. E.g. “I’m a software developer with ten years experience…” would work very well.
Declare your interest in the position
It’s easy to keep your letter as professional as possible but sometimes this can project a lack of enthusiasm towards the role. Don’t be afraid to tell an employer how much you love your work. Use emotive language such as “This role is absolutely ideal for my skills and experience, as I am incredibly passionate about this kind of work.” Your passion and commitment will be clear for a potential employer to see which makes it just as important as having all the right skills.
Explain what you will bring to the job
You can compare this to the idea of an “elevator pitch”. Imagine you have the employer in a lift and you had 30 seconds to pitch why you are the best person for the job. One paragraph should be enough for this. Don’t make it complicated and don’t fall into the trap of talking endlessly about yourself. Keep it concise and fully explain what you will bring to the role.
Clearly demonstrate your unique personality
A covering letter isn’t the place to write a lot of jokes to show how funny you are. However, a covering letter gives you the opportunity to express yourself as a person - a CV does not do this. In a letter you can be warm and show enthusiasm while the CV acts as a basic fact sheet of your skills and experience. Be yourself as it is you they want to hire.
Keep your cover letter short
There is no reward for writing the longest letter and the same can be said for the shortest as well. Your covering letter should be no longer than one side of A4. If it is any longer, the employer is unlikely to read it. Two-thirds of a page is the accepted norm for a covering letter.
Job applicants spend the majority of their application time on their CV and not on their cover letter. This is a mistake as your letter could be the thing that swings the interview in your favour, and ahead of your competition. The job market is fierce which is why it is vital that you stand out from the crowd. For all of your job applications, you must ensure that you send a cover letter alongside CV unless you asked not to provide anything to support your CV.