A well-crafted cover letter can make all the difference when applying for a job.
Here are 9 hot tips to get your cover letter to stand out from the crowd…
1. Letter Type.
First up its important to style your cover letter to match what you are trying to achieve.
Are you floating a CV in for review without having a specific job in mind?
Your cover letter should show interest and inquire about any potential job openings in the company.
Have you been referred to the company by a friend or colleague?
Make sure you mention the name of the person that referred you as this will help make a quick connection with the recruiter or hiring manager.
Is it a cover letter to go with your CV? We will cover this in more detail later on but there are a few important steps you need to take care of.
2. Contact – Find the right person.
It is always the best option to find the correct contact person in an organisation before you send in your cover letter.
First up you have a direct contact you can address the letter to.
This gets you past the junk mail filter but it also gives you a direct contact to follow up with at a later date to see how things are progressing.
3. Find a referral.
With advances in Search and almost all companies on Social Media of some sort, it is quite easy to search employee lists to see if you know anybody in the company you are approaching.
Company pages and personal profiles on LinkedIn are a great source of information. Use Facebook to find friend connections that work in your target companies and ask for introductions.
Having a contact as a referral makes all the difference why you submit your application.
4. Get to the point.
A cover letter should be a short and at the most a single page. Stick to a few paragraphs and fine-tune your message.
Hiring managers and recruiters are busy people and will not read pages of info you send them.
Short, snappy and condensed is best for all cover letters.
5. Skill Matching.
Make sure your cover letter matches up with the position you are applying for.
You don’t have to go into too much detail but always try and cover all the main requirements for the job.
Bullet point format is perfect for this but remember to keep it short.
By matching your key skills to the requirements you give yourself a greater chance of getting to stage 2.
6. Sell yourself.
When you write a cover letter it is the first opportunity for the potential employer to get to know you.
You need to get your key strengths across in the cover letter and outline the experience and benefits you bring to the table.
Keep everything honest and factual.
If you get to the interview stage you will have to stand over everything you stated in the cover letter.
7. Formatting and Styling your cover letter.
Stick to standard fonts when writing your cover letter. Nobody will read big swirly type so don’t bother using it.
Use plenty of white space on your page. Don’t cram everything up into one big paragraph.
Two lines per paragraph are plenty. If it’s a long sentence then just one per line.
By adding bullet points to your copy you can really load up on qualifications without the need for more than one page.
A top tip for bullet points is to use ‘action’ words to start each one.
Use words like ‘Manage’ or ‘Experience’ to start each point.
An example would be: Manage complex projects from start to finish
If you have a list of requirements then your letter should cover these quickly.
A quick intro followed by a table listing your experience – matching requirements is a great way to make an impact quickly.
It shows that you understand the requirements and that you have the required skills to do the job.
Consider breaking up the rest of your content with headings – this allows readers to skim the content and quickly identify sections of the content that may be of interest.
8. Customise each letter.
It’s important to customise each cover letter to suit the company you are approaching.
This is your first chance to impress the company you are applying to so make it count.
This is where you can also mention a referral if you have one. It helps form a link with the company straight away.
Not all companies, or indeed jobs are equal so make sure you tailor your approach to suit each one.
For example, if you are applying for a technical role then you will need to highlight your key technical skills and match them to the role requirements.
For management type jobs you may need to dig deeper into your management style and talk about goal setting, delivery and dealing with problem staff.
Remember to keep things high level enough to fit on one page, but detailed enough to hold the interest of the person reading your letter.
9. Call to action.
Like every good sales pitch, you need to end your cover letter with a call to action.
If you have a direct contact with the company then suggest a follow-up call or meeting and propose a couple of dates that may suit.
If you are floating in your cover letter then make sure to include ways for the potential employer to get in contact with you. They may not have a specific role available immediately but if you impress with your cover letter they may create one for you.
Don’t let yourself down because you forgot to add in contact details.
A properly formatted email signature is easy to set up but also add in contact numbers as a backup.
Why not use some of these tips for writing your next cover letter.
Keep it short, on message and get to the point. Start strong and always remember to end with a call to action.