Whilst many people believe that your CV is the be-all and end-all of securing a job interview, this isn’t always the case. For competitive positions, employers may have to sift through hundreds of applications. This is where a well-written cover letter comes in.
It’s a quick and easy way to separate those who will make the cut with those who won’t. Considering the amount of time that job applications take nowadays, can you afford to have a weak cover letter?
If not, it’s time to give your cover letter a glow-up and start securing yourself more job interviews. A well-written cover letter won’t take you long but will have major rewards!
What’s a cover letter?
A cover letter is usually a short email or a few paragraphs (no more than 250 words) that you’ll use to introduce your CV. Basically, it’s the first impression that an employer will have of you.
Unlike a CV, a cover letter won’t delve into all your life details, experience and why you’re perfect for the job. It should be short and sharp and summarise your interest in the role.
A cover letter is also great for forming more of a personal connection with the employer. While a CV is neutral, cover letters are written in the first person, directly addressing the person hiring.
Who should I address?
People will be more inclined to respond if the cover letter directly addresses them, rather than the typical ‘Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’.
If the contact information isn’t on the job advert, there are still ways to find out. You can look up the name of the hiring manager on the company’s website, do an online search or even contact the organisation directly.
Only once you exhaust all options is it acceptable to use the dreaded generic greetings!
Do your research
Any employer will be able to spot from a mile off if you’ve recycle a cover letter – and it definitely won’t impress them.
So, check the company’s tagline, ethos, work culture…everything! It will help you to build up an idea of what the person responsible for hiring will expect from you. Plus, you can explain how you will assist with the particular needs of the business.
While you may want to get as many applications done as quickly as possible, you’ll only hinder your chances of getting noticed if you don’t tailor the cover letter to the company.
What should the focus be?
With such a short amount of words available, you need to make sure that you have an impact. The number one rule is that the company doesn’t care about what it will do for you. It wants to know what you can offer them!
Therefore, your focus needs to be what you can bring to the table. However, don’t just regurgitate what’s already in your CV. Your cover letter should provide a holistic image of what you’re about, focusing on your strengths and times that you’ve made a difference.
How to make yourself stand out
Don’t be afraid to put some of your personal style into the text to make yourself stand out. If you’ve applied to a creative role, your cover letter should be perfectly crafted. If it’s a design role, it should be an artistic vision.
Either way, be sure to include something extra in your cover letter that will set you apart from your competition. It doesn’t even have to be an academic achievement. It could be any accomplishment that you’re proud of, from an internship to being part of a sports team.
Just remember to tie it in with why this makes you a great fit for the role. Having a personal blog, for example, shows that you’re able to maintain an online presence and capture the eye of the reader!
Show that you can pay attention to detail
No matter how good your cover letter is, if it’s littered with spelling or grammar errors, you won’t be getting that call for the interview. To an employer, it simply looks like you haven’t put the time and effort into proof-reading your work.
So, after writing your cover letter, step away from it for an hour or two. Then, read a printed copy of it, as this will allow you to really register what you’ve written. Highlight any mistakes and show it to a friend. A fresh pair of eyes will help you catch those rogue errors.
How a well-written cover letter could boost your application
It can be tempting to fire off lots of applications in the hopes of getting a response. However, taking the time to produce a well-written cover letter will boost your application more than you might think.
Moreover, it’s a better use of your time to apply to a few jobs which you’re really interested in. Apply that old rule, ‘quality over quantity’. Show off what you can do from the start and the job interviews will soon be flooding in!