Tips For Writing A Great Cover Letter
Applying for jobs can be an arduous task, whether it’s your first time looking, or you’ve been out of work for a while, or you’re on the hunt for something new. The internet is saturated with advice and hints and tips, so it can be difficult to know exactly how you should apply, where you should look, and how to create a great cover letter that will capture your potential employer’s attention. Remember, sometimes your CV isn’t enough to sell yourself especially if you don’t adapt and change your CV to fit the job you’re applying for. Having a concise and to the point cover letter is a great life hack that gives you that opportunity to show you’ve done your research. But how do you create a cover letter that sells? Here are some of our top tips to get you started.
1. Find A Great Template And Adapt It
Writing a cover letter can be hard work, especially if you’re not adept with words. This doesn’t mean you’re not right for the job, it just means you need a little help to get there. Copying a template word for word sounds easy, but you do need to think about whether the template showcases everything you can do. Keep the template as a basis, then build on that, adding in your strengths and achievements, as well as adapting to the job description (which they’ll hopefully have provided). Ensure you change your cover letter for every job you’re applying for as well. Recruiters and employers will have seen enough regurgitated cover letters in their time to know when you’ve simply sent a blanket one out. This sends the message across that you don’t have much attention to detail and are a bit lazy. Harsh, but true.
2. Personalize It
If possible, and where possible, make your cover letter as personable as possible. For instance, if you’ve been provided with the recruiter or hiring manager’s name – use it! Using ‘dear sir or madam’ is archaic and outdated and won’t go down well. If you don’t know their name, simply forgo it all together – you could perhaps target it at the department head instead, using their title. Use LinkedIn or the company’s website to attempt to find the relevant person, instead of relying on ‘to whom it may concern’. It will help you showcase your initiative, as well as looking tech-savvy.
3. Capture Their Attention Instantly
Your opening paragraph or even the opening line of your cover letter needs to have a hook and needs to capture the reader’s attention. Just like a news article, your cover letter is there to inform and entice the reader to continue. If you bore them at the beginning of your cover letter, you’re probably not going to excite them again. Say what job you’re applying for, why you’re excited to be applying for that position, and why the company has stood out to you. Then you can continue the rest of your letter, stating why you would be a good fit and how you’re current skill set matches up to the skills in the job description.
4. Expand On Points You Made In Your CV
Often, we use our CVs as simply listing our employment and educational history, rarely going into the results we achieved at these jobs, but simply what was required of us. In your cover letter, you can expand on your tasks, and showcase what you actually did, how you applied yourself, and the results this gained. Ensure you do this whilst focusing on the job description you’ve been provided with, so you can relate each point you’re making to the role you want. If you’re unsure on how to do this, think about these three questions:
- If you were given a higher responsibility in a task, such as locking up or cashing away, how did you approach this?
- Think about a task you had to complete in a role that was complicated and stretched your skill set. How did you accomplish this?
- Did a customer ever thank you or go to your manager to provide feedback on you? Can you remember what you did that created this scenario?
5. Talk About Yourself, And Not About The Company
You know why you want to apply for the job, but your potential employer doesn’t. They want to see why you think you’d be a good fit, how your skills can be applied, and what makes you a great employee. They’re not interested in how great their company is – you’ve already stated this in your opening paragraph. Keep it about you, otherwise, you could come across as only thinking about what the company can do for you, rather than what you can do for them.
6. Don’t Always Rely On Your Employment History
When looking at the job description you’ve been provided, you don’t always have to attribute a skill set to your past roles. Think about how you might have achieved or completed a task in other aspects of your life. For instance, you might have been on a sports team at some point or volunteered at a care home. Whatever you can think of, use it. This will make you look inventive, as well as interesting, with a life outside of work. It’s impossible for an employer to believe you could have achieved all your life skills in full-time work – most of us mold who we are from traveling or meeting new people or being thrown into situations we aren’t prepared for.
7. Make Your Points And Move On
Finally, like your CV, you want to keep your cover letter short and sweet, answering the job description appropriately and showcasing your skill set, as well as your personality. Keep your enthusiasm throughout, as well as your bragging rights. This is about you and your capabilities for this job; don’t be afraid to show off and illustrate exactly why you’re the right fit.
So remember, use a template, amend accordingly, showcase your skills, inject your personality into your letter, and always sense check for spelling or grammatical errors. Happy job hunting!