If you are starting your job search in 2021, getting your cover letter right is just as important as perfecting your CV.
Cover letters provide candidates the opportunity to distinguish themselves and is normally the first thing that a hiring manager will look at when considering a candidate.
Although writing cover letters can seem daunting at first, we have put together our top tips for writing cover letters and how to tailor them to each job that you apply for.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a letter that accompanies a CV and is used to elaborate on the information contained in a CV.
It should act as a form of introduction, telling the hiring manager why you want to work for the company and how your skills/qualifications are suitable for the job and how they will benefit the company.
How should a cover letter be structured?
When writing your cover letter, you should begin with a strong opening paragraph to catch the hiring manager’s attention. It should explain what position you are applying for and why you feel you would be a good fit for the job.
The second paragraph is your opportunity to expand on your CV, discussing the most relevant skills and qualifications that you have and how they will benefit the company. You should refer to the job description and make sure that you have discussed some of the skills mentioned.
The third paragraph should discuss your knowledge of the company and why you want to work for them specifically. This may include their core values or how you would fit into the company culture.
You should always end a cover letter with a call to action. For example, if you plan on waiting for a response, mention that you look forward to hearing from them and thank them for taking the time to read your cover letter.
Any other tips?
Customise each cover letter
Avoid generic cover letters with vague and generic phrases. Instead, write cover letters that are tailored specifically to the company and role that you are applying for. Each cover letter should be unique, even if you do follow a basic format.
Where possible, use statistics to illustrate your point. Using statistics shows hiring managers that you have had a measurable impact on the company that you worked for. It also shows the potential that you could bring to your next role.
Keep it short
Hiring managers do not want to spend all day reading lengthy cover letters, so keep it short – no more than an A4 page. Although there are some exceptions, e.g. senior positions, generally one A4 page is acceptable.
Once you have written your cover letter, check for spelling and grammar mistakes. Hiring managers are not going to take your application seriously if it is covered in mistakes.
It is also a good idea to allow someone else to read over it too, they may spot something you have missed. If this isn’t an option, set your cover letter aside for a few hours and then read it again with fresh eyes – you’ll probably notice some new changes you want to make.
Written by Michelle Young