How to write a good cover letter
The cover letter is often the first element of your job application that your prospective employer will read, often ahead of your CV. For that reason, it’s vital that you get it right – and that means knowing how to write a cover letter that will grab the recruiter’s attention for all the right reasons.
A poorly crafted letter that fails to clearly articulate why you are the ideal candidate for the role, or one containing bad grammar and spelling mistakes, will result in your application getting dispatched to the reject pile. But a good cover letter can work wonders in convincing an employer of your credentials and your professionalism, as well as providing insights into your personality and character.
With that in mind, here’s our step-by-step guide to writing the perfect cover letter to help get you over the line for that all-important face-to-face interview.
Tips That Work
Step 1: Start strong:
First impressions last – so the opening paragraph needs to grab your potential employer’s attention and wow them with your suitability for the role.
Make sure you address the letter directly to the person named on the job ad. If there’s no name, or you’re applying speculatively, use LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook to research and find the name of the relevant person (preferably someone within HR or a director or manager within the department you’re applying to).
Step 2: Do your research
Demonstrate that you’ve researched the company and have some knowledge of their brand. Describe what attracts you to working for them specifically, convey enthusiasm for their industry and show passion for their work.
Step 3: Choose your best bits
The next step in writing a cover letter is to summarise your main skills and experience, condensing the most compelling parts of your resume and highlighting your skills as they relate to the specific requirements of the job ad. If you can show that you possess the exact skills, experience and qualities they’re looking for, that will go a long way towards earmarking you as a top candidate.
Most importantly, make clear exactly what YOU can offer THEM, and how you can contribute to their business success.
Step 4: List your other skills
Outline any general skills you think are relevant to the role, such as communication and interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities and organisational strengths. Use dynamic verbs such as ‘collaborated’, ‘motivated’, ‘managed’ and ‘analysed’ to help convey your points and add an air of professionalism.
Step 5: Finish with a ‘call to action’
It’s important to finish writing your cover letter by politely prompting the employer to take the next step and asking them to contact you to arrange an interview, before thanking them for their time. This shows your keenness to meet, while finishing on a positive note. If you’re sending a speculative application, let them know when you’ll be calling them to follow up, which demonstrates great initiative – and then make sure you do follow up.