While cover letters are often not required to apply for a job, why risk having a potential employer overlook your application just because it doesn’t stand out enough? Some employers won’t look at your cover letter if it’s not required, and that’s ok. Having a cover letter shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile, and could boost your chances of being employed. According to this article, ‘It’s impressive to see a cover letter from an applicant because they are rare.’
You’ve seen your dream job advertised, and your CV is in great shape. There’s still one more thing to ensure your application is perfect – a great cover letter. How can you make this short but vital piece of the puzzle work best for you?
1. Get the name right
Getting the details right can be key in showing a prospective employer how thorough you are. There should be a contact name on the job advert that you are responding to. Make sure you use it and address your cover letter directly to that person.
If no name is mentioned, don’t be afraid to call the company and ask who you should be sending it to. When you find out, double check the spelling to make sure you’ve got this person’s name correct. As a bonus, this will help you to establish a connection with that person, meaning your interview will go a lot smoother if they’re in attendance.
Using their name will also help you promote how personable and friendly you are, which is perfect for any role where you have to directly deal with customers/clients/coworkers regularly.
“A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language”. -Dale Carnegie
2. Don’t rehash your CV
The cover letter isn’t the place to repeat information. Don’t pick out the highlights of your CV and regurgitate them. Instead, think about what they should know about you that isn’t in the CV itself.
What important qualities do you have that would be useful for this job? Do you have passion or experience outside of work that relates to that specific company? A nugget of information here could make you stand out from the crowd.
Here is the place to elaborate on the personality aspect of your CV. Going into more depth about your skills is brilliant, and gives you a chance to explain where and how you’d use them in the role. Bonus points if you explicitly state how these skills and traits will directly benefit the company/team!
3. It’s not all about you
The cover letter is the place to show this business that you’ve been thinking about them too. Talk about what attracts you to working for them, why you’d be a good fit and projects or work of theirs that you admire. If they’ve just run a big ad campaign that caught your eye, it’s great to mention that and show you’ve been paying attention.
Say you’re applying for a marketing role. A good grasp of how they use social media or digital advertising might be useful to mention. It’s your chance to show them you’re engaged with what the company does and how its perceived by the world. Mention how you admire their strategy. This can lead to a natural and on-topic conversation during the interview, which gives you more opportunity to show off your skills.
If you’re going for a job at a music venue, mentioning the many great experiences you’ve had attending concerts with your friends will highlight the personal connection you have with the company, boosting your chances of snagging an interview. The company will appreciate the feedback and they will be reassured that if they choose to hire you, the company will be in caring hands.
Any company will want employees who are invested, engaged and loyal, so don’t be too shy to mention any brilliant experiences you’ve had which involve them.
4. Shine a light on your big achievement
Show off, and tell the recruiter what an asset you are. If you’ve been working for your current employer on a particular project, mention it here. Doing this won’t be a retreading ground on your CV, but will prove that you can bring value to a company.
If you snagged a thousand pound contract for your company, show it off. If you secured a piece of press which led to major brand awareness, tell them. Think about those specific achievements and name them. Don’t forget to relate them to the work you could do for the prospective employer.
You shouldn’t be modest at any point in your CV or cover letters. Their purpose is to show off how great you are, after all.
If you don’t have any work-related achievements, try using an achievement from a hobby or volunteer work. Read our blog on using hobbies in your CV for our tips for wooing recruiters using out-of-work activities.
5. Keep it brief
It may seem like a lot to fit into a small space, but brevity is key. Good communicators deliver the most important nuggets of information and engage their reader. They present it interestingly and concisely.
Your cover letter should be no longer than one page. Split it up into around three or four paragraphs long and deliver a real punch to the reader.
There’s a good chance your application is one of hundreds, so you want to make a great first impression. The best way to do this is by standing out.