If you’ve been applying for jobs, you will have no doubt seen adverts asking you to include a cover letter with your application. Many job seekers are unsure about this aspect, so I’ve put together a blog post to explain what a cover letter is and how to create one that stands out for all the right reasons ☺
What is a cover letter?
Put simply, a cover letter is a document accompanying your CV that ‘introduces’ you to the employer. If written well, it can be a really effective marketing tool that can dramatically increase your chances of getting an interview invite. If it’s not given the attention required (as is often the case), it can actually work against you in the application process… so it’s vital you get it right!
How do you create an amazing cover letter?
So, where do you start? Read on for my top tips on creating a great cover letter :-
1) Include your motivation
Get the employer on side early on in your letter by telling them why you’ve chosen to apply to them. You might include where you heard about the company, what it is that excites you about them and how the role fits in with your career plans.
2) Demonstrate your suitability
Explain briefly why you’re an ideal candidate for the job. Pick out two or three main requirements for the role and demonstrate how you meet them. You might find it useful for this section to imagine you’ve got a 15 second pitch to tell the employer why they should pick you for the role – what would you say?
3) Be Concise
The cover letter is not the place for waffle. Employers usually have a matter of minutes to read through your application and make a judgment on whether you’re a strong candidate or not, so help them out by stating your case clearly and concisely. Your letter should consist of short paragraphs, be easy to read and less than one page in length.
4) Take time to personalise
It’s so easy to spot a generic cover letter where the candidate has obviously sent the same document to many companies and just changed the organisation name and job role. Although this may save time it will definitely not help your application. By doing this, you’re effectively sending a message to the employer to say ‘You’re one of many employers I’m writing to and I can’t be bothered to tailor my application to you’. I always advise job seekers to apply only for roles they’re genuinely interested in and are willing to take time to tailor their application for. Although you may not end up applying for as many positions, I guarantee it will make the applications you do send far more powerful and help you to stand out from other applicants.
5) Be positive
Try to communicate your enthusiasm for the role in your letter. You might want to talk about how you’re ‘excited’ to apply for the role, how you’d ‘love to work for’ the company and ‘look forward to hearing’ from them. A word of warning – don’t go over the top! You don’t want your letter to sound like you’re just trying to suck up to the company by being over-positive. A good tip here is to think from the employer’s point of view. What content and tone would impress you and make you keen to invite the candidate for an interview?
Hopefully, instead of being mystified by the cover letter or seeing it as an annoying inconvenience in an application process, this post has helped you recognise its potential ability to add personality to your application, impress the employer and catapult your application from the ‘boring and generic’ pile to one of the chosen few.
If you’re looking for further support, I offer a CV and cover letter review service – you can find out more about this and my other services here.