A cover letter is often the most important and memorable part of a job application. While your CV provides a broad picture of your skills and experiences, it is the cover letter that allows you to target the job and the recruiting organisation in a specific and personal way. How can you write a great cover letter that will grab the interest of the employer? Here are 5 steps to follow while writing a cover letter:
1) Personalise your Cover Letter
If you’re applying for several positions, take time to tailor your cover letter to each position. Using the same generic cover letter is not impactful and signals a lack of interest. In the same light, avoid using impersonal terms like “To Whom It May Concern” when addressing the cover letter. Try to find the name of the hiring manager; and if your search doesn’t turn up results, you could use the greeting “Dear Hiring Manager”.
2) Don’t Restate your Resume and Highlight only Relevant Experiences
Do not just summarise everything – the employer can already see this information on your CV. Instead, use your cover letter as a chance to expand on the experiences which are most relevant to the position. For instance, pick 2-3 accomplishments and go into further detail about them. The cover letter is exactly the space for giving employers a deeper, more personal look at who you are.
3) Keep your Cover Letter Short and Specific
Aim to be as concise as possible – the cover letter should not exceed one page. Pay attention to how you write; instead of describing yourself using vague, overused expressions such as a “team-player” or “results-driven”, prove to the employer that you are these things through specific examples. A phrase like “I spearheaded a marketing campaign which increased the client base of XYZ company by 15%” will convey a far greater impact.
4) Target the Employer’s Needs
Remember, the cover letter should not just point out your accomplishments. Instead, keep the focus of the cover letter on the recruiting organisation, and how you can help them meet their needs. Do some research on the organisation to get a better idea of their current goals and challenges – this will allow you to be more specific in explaining the added value that you can bring to the position. It will also show the organisation that you’re genuinely interested in their work.
5) End the Cover Letter with a Call to Action
Your closing statement should be strong, confident and enthusiastic. Reiterate your interest and your suitability for the position, suggest an interview, and state when you will follow-up with them. Consider a phrase like: “I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my skills and experience will be beneficial to your organisation’s success”.
*For more on job hunting, read: Perfect your resume: 6 tips on how to write a good CV and How to excel in your job interview? 8 interview tips that will help you get hired.