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Crafting a winning cover letter

Published: Thursday 28th February 2019

If you’re looking for a new job, the quality of your cover letter can make all the difference when it comes to being selected to go forward out of a large pool of applications. As these examples demonstrate, getting your cover letter right is incredibly important when it comes to securing that all-important employment interview.

Cover letter word cloud concept

Short is sweet

When it comes to the word count, keep it concise, succinct and to the point. At this stage, your goal is to summarise how your skills and experience make you the ideal candidate for the role. 250 words should be enough to do this. You can expand upon these details at interview stage. Right now, what you say has to make your letter stand out from all the other cover letters the hirer has to go through when selecting the most suitable candidates for interview.

Generic doesn’t stand out

This is why, when seeking employment in any niche, you should never use a single generic cover letter for every application. Tailor each for the company and the role. This is easily done by explaining the reasons you want to work for the company, as opposed to another firm in the same sector. Make the tone enthusiastic and positive especially when describing what you can bring to the company.

Positive enthusiastic student sitting at the table with a pile of books and smiling while writing

Do your research

The key to achieving this is research. Do your homework on the company and the role. For instance, does the company have any interesting projects in the pipeline that are directly related to your skills or experience? Simply congratulating the company on a new business win or an industry award could elevate your application above other candidates.

Structure your cover letter

Start with a quick introduction and why you’re getting in touch. The key here is to engage the recruiter and get them interested straight away. If you have the name of your contact at the firm or the hirer, use it.

In the next paragraph, briefly summarise why you’re the perfect fit, before following on with a little more detail on how your specific skills and experience make you an obvious candidate. If you refer to your current employment, mention any awards or significant achievements that may be applicable to the new job and include any metrics or KPIs to back up your statements. Hiring managers love to see stats. Alternatively, a testimonial from a customer, client, manager or colleague could be persuasive.

Finish with a strong and enthusiastic closing line that encourages them to contact you. Arguably, it’s this concluding statement that will have the most impact and make you stand out from the clutter, so spend a little time on getting it right.

Letter being proofread by someone

Edit and proof

Basic grammatical errors or spelling mistakes on a cover letter look unprofessional. Read, edit and re-read improving wherever you can. Use a spellchecker and, if you can, get a second opinion.

Remember, your cover letter shouldn’t simply repeat what’s in your CV. It should explain why what’s in your CV makes you the ideal person for the job and the perfect employee for the company.

Whatever work you’re applying for, from retail jobs to IT jobs, few things make more difference when it comes to getting a call for interview than your cover letter, so take the time to make yours the best it can be.

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