First impressions; yes, we all have them. Even though we are told not to judge a book by it’s cover, we all do it to some degree anyway. A cover letter is your crucial first impression on a potential employer, so it needs to be fabulous. It needs to knock their socks off. It needs to get your foot in the door.
Most jobs nowadays, require a cover letter to accompany a resume. While the resume is a very significant tool in getting who you are across to potential employers, they can pretty much be stock standard as well; but a cover letter is your chance to tell a short story about yourself, to sell yourself in your own words, to get your resume read and to ultimately gain that interview.
Writing a cover letter doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Once you know what is expected, it’s actually quite easy. Just follow these tips below and get that interview.
- Read the advertisement, then read it again
Mark any keywords that are in the ad that you can use in the cover letter and make sure you can back up your claims.
- Don’t just copy your resume
This is your chance to show some personality and your interest in the job and company. Match the cover letter to the job role to which you are applying for. If you are applying for a few different jobs, write a new cover letter for each job. Your resume can stay the same, but you need to personalise each letter to whom it is intended for.
- Keep it simple
Use simple language; write as if you are talking to the person face to face. You need to be comfortable with what you have written. Make your cover letter easy to read, for example; font size: 11 or 12 and font style: Calibri or Roman Times.
- Make sure your layout is correct
There are hundreds of cover letter templates on the internet, these will show you how to layout your cover letter professionally if you are unsure.
- Include all essential details
The details you need to include are:
- Your name
- Your contact details
- The contact details of the recipient
and also remember to state the position to which you are applying, either as a heading or in your opening paragraph.
- Don’t make it too long
One page is acceptable, about three paragraphs. Remember your cover letter won’t be the only letter they receive. Be confident, let them know why you are the best person for the job. Elaborate on your resume by giving more details about relevant experience you may have. If you have a lot of experience, put it down in years as opposed to specific dates.
- Tell them what they want to hear
Don’t tell them why this job would be good for you and your career, tell them why you would be good for their company and what you can bring to the table. Remember, they’re looking at what you can do for them, not the other way around.
- Highlight achievements
Towards the end of your letter, you can highlight any career achievements, as long as they are particularly relevant to the job to which you are applying.
- Close your letter
Draw your letter to a close by being polite, saying thank you and showing interest in meeting for an interview.
- Finally, check and double check your letter
Make sure there are no spelling mistakes, get someone else to proofread your letter. The last thing you want is to be disregarded because of a simple spelling mistake (it happens more often than you’d think).
Remember, you are not the only person wanting or needing this job. Your cover letter needs to stand out from the crowd while being professional at the same time. Be true to yourself when writing your letter, put some of your personality into it.
In the end you will never really know what type of person they are looking for to fill the position. Sometimes it’s not only about experience and qualifications; a person’s personality can get them a long way and a glimpse of this in your cover letter will hopefully secure you with an interview. Then you can really show them what you are made of.