How to Write an Outstanding Cover Letter
In today’s current job market, a cover letter is often requested to accompany your CV when applying for a job. A cover letter provides further, more specific detail on how your skill set aligns with the job role, why you are suited to the position and what you can bring to the team. But its not an easy task, so how do you write a cover letter?
Why is it important?
The overall goal of a cover letter is to demonstrate your adeptness as a candidate and to show that you are a well-educated, experienced and enthusiastic individual. It is an important way to showcase your unique combination of skills, experience and personality to the employer and highlight how you meet the key requirements of the job description.
Your CV and cover letter go hand-in-hand to accurately portray you as the perfect candidate; one can’t succeed without the other. This is why it is essential that you have a persuasive and powerful cover letter, along with an up-to-date CV.
A well-written cover letter is the perfect opportunity to show the reader that you encompass the key attributes within the job description, which is why it is important to invest the necessary time and effort into writing yours. As a badly written, generic cover letter or even worse no cover letter at all will show an employer a lack of effort and could even cost you your dream job.
What to include?
- Your contact information (if it’s not already on your CV)
- Include the specific role that you’re applying for.
- An address to the hiring manager (include their name if possible!)
- A brief description of why you’re a good fit for the role
- Your relevant experience and skills
- A conclusion that reiterates your interest
- Sign off with your name and signature
How to structure it?
Before you start…read the job description and make a list of the top 3-5 requirements for the role. Next, brainstorm how you possess the essential knowledge or skills by referencing a specific accomplishment or experience from education or previous work experience to illustrate this.
Opening the letter
Start by appropriately addressing you cover letter with a professional introduction to the hiring manager, clearly stating the the role you are applying for.
First paragraph – Why are you suitable for the job?
Outline the key aspects of the job role and draw clear links with the skills and knowledge that you hold. Focus on the most important aspects of the role and relate them directly to your relevant experience.
Add any supporting information necessary, such as any additional skills you can bring to the team, above and beyond the job specification. Don’t just focus on hard skills such as technical abilities, digital marketing, web. development. As It is important to include soft skills such as leadership, organisation, teamwork, communication, as these skills provide indicators to your personality.
Second paragraph – Why do you want to work for that company?
There are 2.5 million students in the UK, of which 800,000 graduate every year. This means there are a large number of graduates who possess the same skills as you. Set yourself apart by showing your enthusiasm for the organisation and what excites you about working for them, have they recently completed any big projects, have the been in the news? It is an opportunity to show your personality, show you interest in the company and how you align with there company culture.
It is important for hiring manager to know that your not only skilled to do the job but will seamlessly fit into the team and wider company.
Third Paragraph – Summerise
Reaffirm your interest in the role, summarising why you really want the job.
Closing the cover letter
Thank the recruiter for taking the time to consider your application, but also state how excited you are to hear from them to talk through your CV in more detail (be confident in your application)
Overall, your cover letter should be well-presented and concise. Make sure you use a readable font, split up the letter into clear paragraphs and try not to write any longer than one-page. Most importantly, do your research and ensure your tone is confident and positive.
What are employers looking for?
Employers want to see genuine excitement and enthusiasm from candidates applying for the role. They want to know if you have the relevant skills and work experience needed and why you are the right person for the job.
“I really look for energy […] we had four applications immediately and there was one that really jumped out because they’d really done their homework on our business and it really felt like they were really invested their time to know us.”Kallum Russell – CEO Unpreneur – Graphic Design Case Study
Employers also want to see if you are a good fit for their organisation. Therefore, make sure you show that you truly understand the company culture and what they stand for.
Don’t apologise for missing experience – instead of drawing attention to your weaknesses, emphasis the strengths that you have. If you find it necessary to address a spot where you lack experience, focus instead of the transferable skills you have that can relate to what you’re missing.
Here are our 5 top-tips to writing an effective cover letter:
1. Write a new cover letter for each job application
The last thing an employer wants to read is another boring, generic cover letter. Taking the easy route can make you come off as a lazy candidate. This is why you must always write a fresh, new cover letter specific to the job role you are applying for.
2. Read and understand the job advert
Don’t just skim over the job posting. Take your time to read it thoroughly and fully understand the role, responsibilities and requirements. Job adverts highlight the employers’ most important recruitment marking assets.
3. Don’t repeat your entire CV
The recruiter already has your CV so there is no need to word-vomit your entire job history when writing your cover letter. The cover letter is a separate document that allows you to tailor your experience and skills to the job post. Therefore, match your experience to the role – highlight the unique talent that you bring to the table by painting a picture of what you can do for the company. Try to avoid including any irrelevant information by including only value-driven content that relates to the position.
4. Use keywords
In the cover letter, it is important to use job-related keywords that are featured within the job description. These keywords can be picked up in applicant tracking software, which could get your cover letter read ahead of others.
5. Finish strong – always have someone proof-read, spell-check and amend!
When you’re competing against a large pool of candidates for one role, the smallest typo could eliminate you from the pile. Don’t let these silly mistakes derail your job application.