In these uncertain times – one certainty is an upheaval in the jobs market. Whether you are in work and looking for a strategic move, or currently out of work and searching for that next opportunity, having a professional, effective cover letter is paramount.
Here are our top tips to make your cover letter achieve the right results:
First impressions count
It sounds silly, but even simple things like typos can make the difference between you and another candidate. Use a spell checker, or a plugin such as Grammarly, to proof your completed letter. Also, spend time on the details such as layout, proper punctuation, and font choice (this is not the time for something ”individual”).
“Not sending a cover letter is a sign of laziness. It’s akin to making spelling and grammar mistakes in your résumé. You just don’t do it,”- Jodi Glickman, Great on the Job.
Don’t make your cover letter too generic. An “insert name of company here” letter stands out a mile and will do little to impress your potential new place of work. Instead, take time to address it to the correct person, and include a few lines about the company and why it, and the role, interests you. If you have any personal connection with the company or the addressee – now’s the time to mention it.
Personable, but not overly familiar
Finding the right tone is a careful balance between formal stuffiness and over-familiarity. The overall tone should be the same as you would adopt in your (hopeful) interview. Be respectful but enthusiastic, conversational but not rambling. You’re in “mother of the bride” territory here – not “up in court” or “mates down the pub”.
This means probably ease up on contractions (“don’t”, ”isn’t”), colloquialisms, and anecdotes.
Why you in particular?
What do you specifically bring to the party? Anyone can claim to be motivated or a self-starter, but what exactly makes you right for this role?
Give relevant examples of your previous work and specifics about your experience, qualifications or abilities that bring value to the role and will enrich your future employer. More importantly try to work out exactly why they need to fill this specific position, what are the company’s ambitions and how you can help them achieve them.
The art of the cover letter is to explain your past successes within the context of the job on offer. However, this should be honest and not overly boastful. Don’t shy away from your successes, but, by the same token don’t be arrogant.
“45% of recruiters say that a lack of cover letter will get a CV rejected“. – Careerbuilder
Enthusiasm for a role will shine through in your cover letter. Give concrete reasons why the position inspires you – everyone likes a bit of positivity.
Things to leave out
There are a few no-go areas for a cover letter.
Keep it short. Nobody is going to wade through a long essay on your personal achievements – especially when you’re the 20th application they have read that day.
The letter should be about your suitability for the job – not your personal views, family news or general musings. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Don’t try to be funny – it will often fall flat. Unless you are applying for a job in comedy – then absolutely try to be funny.
Leave specifics for later. Now is not the time to talk about schedules, salary or benefits – leave these for the interview.
If you want to discuss your next move, and perhaps get some more cover letter advice, drop us a line at: [email protected]