When applying for jobs, candidates often spend hours on their CV, making sure it’s perfect. While it’s important to optimise your CV,another crucial part of the application process that’s often overlooked is the cover letter.
A cover letter allows you to directly communicate with the place you want to work and can help separate you from others who are applying. If your cover letter is dry and boring, you won’t get the job. So how do you make your cover letter stand out?
First things first, when writing your cover letter, maintain nothing but perfect spelling and grammar. This is the first hurdle to overcome – without making a good first impression you will never get the job.
Programmes and apps like Grammarly can help you writer better and use accurate spelling and correct grammar. This ensures that your cover letter will be read through by your potential employer and position you in the best possible light.
Your cover letter must be addressed to someone. ‘To whom it may concern’ shows you’re lazy and didn’t care enough to look up who will be directly responsible for deciding if you get the job or not. If you find your potential boss on LinkedIn, or call up the company to get their name, this shows you’re resourceful and motivated, which every company is looking for.
Writing a great cover letter starts from the very first sentence. If your opening sentence is boring or cliché, no one will read beyond it. Hiring managers and HR personnel will read dozens if not hundreds of cover letters for every role, so it’s important to make yours stand out.
Strong declarative statements create an impression. Thanking someone for taking the time read your cover letter does not. You want to be remembered, so choose an opening line that will stick in the mind of whoever reads it.
Take some time to workshop different openings. See which are effective, which are too intense, and which helps set up what will follow in the rest of the letter.
It’s important to keep in mind what your cover letter is trying to do: you want to show the person reading it that you can do the job you’re applying for.
Use examples of what you’ve done to show your expertise, your capabilities and your level of experience. Link your skills to what they’re looking for by showing them in action – don’t just say ‘I’m a problem solver’, show a time that you used your own initiative to solve a problem. This gives the person reading it not only an idea of who you are but how you work.
Showing your potential employer that you’ll solve their problems makes it much easier for them to be confident in your abilities and makes you more attractive as a new hire. Make your cover letter stand out by letting it reflect you as a person and as an employee.
Use of style and tone is incredibly important when writing a great cover letter. It can help you sound like an expert – or not. A cover letter is not a place to beg for a job, or to spend a paragraph thanking them for reading and considering you for the position. Keep the tone of your cover letter professional and focus on the job and why you’re a good fit, rather than explaining how much and why you want the job.
Just like with your CV, the design and layout of your cover letter is important. Don’t write two dense pages of solid text, because no one will read it.
Your cover letter doesn’t have to be long: keep it to one page of well-spaced out text that allows the eye to travel over it naturally. You don’t want to make the reader do any extra work; they should be able to just absorb the information as they go.
Take your reader from section to section with clear spacing. This will make reading your cover letter a more pleasant experience and make your potential employer more likely to offer you the job.