How to write a good cover letter
No one likes job hunting. Scouring through online jobs boards, spiffing up your resume, prepping for grueling interviews — none of it’s fun. But perhaps the most challenging part of the process is writing an effective cover letter. There’s so much conflicting advice out there, it’s hard to know where to start. Indeed, in an age of digital communication, many might question whether you even need a cover letter anymore.
In many instances, a cover letter is the first element of your job application that your prospective employer will read, often ahead of your CV. For that reason, it’s vital that you get it right – and that means knowing how to write a cover letter that will grab the recruiter’s attention for all the right reasons.
A poorly crafted cover letter that fails to clearly articulate why you are the ideal candidate for the role, or one containing bad grammar and spelling mistakes, will result in your application getting dispatched to the reject pile. But a good cover letter can work wonders in convincing an employer of your credentials and your professionalism, as well as providing insights into your personality and character.
With that in mind, here’s our step-by-step guide to writing the perfect cover letter to help get you over the line for that all-important face-to-face interview.
Best (6) Cover Letter Tips That Work
- Start strong
- Do your Research about the Company
- Choose your best bits
- List your other skills
- Finish with a ‘call to action’
- Keep it short
1. Start strong:
First impressions last – The opening paragraph needs to grab your potential employer’s attention and wow them with your suitability for the role.
Make sure you address the letter directly to the person named on the job ad. If there’s no name, or you’re applying speculatively, use LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook to research and find the name of the relevant person (preferably someone within HR or a director or manager within the department you’re applying to).
2. Do your Research about the Company
Before you start writing, find out more about the company and the specific job you want. Look at the company’s website, its executives’ Twitter feeds, and employee profiles on LinkedIn. Do some research beyond reading the job description. Knowing the company better also helps you decide on the right tone to use in your cover letter. Think about the culture of the organization you’re applying to. “If it’s a creative agency, like a design shop, you might take more risks but if it’s a more conservative organization, like a bank, you may hold back.”
3. Choose your best bits
The next step in writing a cover letter is to summarize your main skills and experience, condensing the most compelling parts of your resume and highlighting your skills as they relate to the specific requirements of the job advert. If you can show that you possess the exact skills, experience and qualities they’re looking for, that will go a long way towards earmarking you as a top candidate.
Most importantly, make clear exactly what YOU can offer THEM, and how you can contribute to their business success.
4. List your other skills
Outline any general skills you think are relevant to the role, such as communication and interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities and organizational strengths. Use dynamic verbs such as ‘collaborated’, ‘motivated’, ‘managed’ and ‘analyzed’ to help convey your points and add an air of professionalism.
5. Finish with a ‘call to action’
It’s important to finish writing your cover letter by politely prompting the employer to take the next step and asking them to contact you to arrange an interview, before thanking them for their time. This shows your keenness to meet, while finishing on a positive note. If you’re sending a speculative application, let them know when you’ll be calling them to follow up, which demonstrates great initiative – and then make sure you do follow up.
6. Keep it short
Much of the advice out there tells you to keep it under a page. But some even think shorter is better. It should be brief enough that someone can read it at a glance. You do have to cover a lot of ground but you should do it succinctly.
Example of a Cover Letter
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