Cover letters are often a cause of stress and frustration, just when you find that perfect job to apply for, another hurdle is laid in your path.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, cover letters are a great way to express yourself as more than just the next CV in the application pile; they tell employers who you are, highlight why they should hire you, and help you stand out from the host of other applications.
So get your game face on, for tips so good, they’ll knock your socks off!
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Tip 1. Write a new Cover Letter for each job
Yes, really. It’s way faster and easier to just use the last one you used and change the name and company, but let’s be realistic, it’s obvious and shows lack of commitment. It’s ok to recycle a few strong sentences, but other than that it should be custom every time. According to Resume Lab, 83% of HR professionals say that cover letters are important in their hiring decisions and can help make up for a weaker CV. So make sure you take them seriously!
Tip 2. Don’t regurgitate your CV
Don’t just repeat what’s on your resume, use the opportunity to expand on those brief points and paint a fuller picture of your experiences and accomplishments. Here are some good questions to help you: what approach did you take in dealing with a responsibility in a previous role? What about your passion, personality or work ethic made you so good at getting the task done? What details would you include if you were telling someone a short anecdote?
Tip 3. Feel free to take inspiration from templates
Templates are a great way to get a feel for the kind of thing that might be expected of you, and the sort of tone you should be striving for. Make sure you browse far and wide in your efforts to stay relevant, professional and eager. If you are able, search for templates for similar positions or from the same industry.
Tip 4. Craft a snappy opening line
Don’t bother with your name, think of something to the point, memorable and passionate about the potential opportunity you are applying for as well as any past accomplishments
Tip 5. What can you bring to the role?
Don’t talk about how great the position would be for you, instead think about what you can do for the company. That is what employers or hiring managers are looking for, particularly if you can identify the problems they might hire you to solve. Then emphasize how your skills and experience make you the right person to solve them.
Tip 6. Make it personal
Traditionally, “Dear Mr/Mrs SURNAME” is used in many cover letters, but do your homework before you try the formal approach. What sort of company is this? What is their company culture like? If you can be certain the company is quite casual for example, it may be better to hit them with “Dear FIRSTNAME.” Another good time to employ this sort of opening is if you can’t be sure of the gender of the person reading your letter.
Tip 7. Informative but not exhaustive
Almost 70% of employers prefer cover letters that are half a page or less, so whilst it’s important to highlight the right experiences and showcase your skills, don’t let your letter become an essay. Typically the most important requirements for the position will be listed first in the job description, or mentioned more than once so you’ll want to make sure you focus on how you can deliver on those key priorities. If you feel you have the potential but your experience doesn’t make that obvious, try focusing on your skills instead.
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