Cover letters are required on most job applications, and while they may seem quite daunting to write, they can actually be a fun way of showing your personality to the employer.
However, don’t forget that this is usually the first thing that your employer sees, so it needs to demonstrate why you are the right candidate for the role. You really need to focus on selling your skills and experience to recruiters, and match them to the responsibilities listed in the job description.
Referring back to the requirements of the role and using your own skills as examples is essential, but you don’t want to be reciting the job back to the employer. You need to stamp your own personality to it, and tell them why they can stop searching for the perfect candidate after they’ve received your application.
How? Keep reading for our top tips on how to write the perfect cover letter!
Do Your Research
What you don’t want to do, is apply for the job and write the cover letter as soon as you stumble across the application. You should take the time to really research the company before putting pen to paper. Key information which would be useful for you to know is:
What does the company do?
Who are its main competitors?
What does the role involve?
What are the essential skills required?
Where will you be based if you secure the position? (i.e. working from home, office based, or hybrid working)
Is the company on social media? Check out their profiles and see if they have shared anything recently that you can work into your letter.
Taking the time to properly research the business will definitely come through in your application, and will really impress the recruiters if you succeed in getting through to the interview stage. Taking an interest in them, means that they will take an interest in you.
What to Include
Cover letters may look simple enough, but there is a fine art to them when it comes to the layout and format of the document. You may not think it matters too much, but a recruiter will certainly be able to tell the difference between a candidate who made the effort to structure the letter correctly, and a candidate who did not.
You should include:
Your contact information at the top of the letter (address, email address, and preferred phone number).
The role that you are applying for.
Address the letter to the recruiter by name, if you know it. If not, ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ will be fine.
Why you think you are right for the role, with examples to back up your statements (more on this later).
Your experience and skills.
A conclusion that reiterates your interest, and ends with a call to action.
Your signature at the end of the letter.
You’ve got your basic points nailed down, but how do you structure all of this? Don’t fear, we’ve got a handy guide incoming!
Cover letters need a solid and stable structure because without one, they’ll simply be all over the place! You want to take the recruiter on a smooth journey with you, where they’ll find everything they need to know without any confusion.
Here is a rough guide of what each paragraph should contain. Remember, cover letters are ideally no longer than once side of A4, so you need to keep things short and sweet.
Paragraph One – Why are you getting in touch?
This is your opening paragraph, and you want to use this to hook the recruiter. Briefly introduce yourself, explain why you are getting in touch, and what role you are applying for.
It’s also useful for the recruiter if you mention where you saw the role advertised, or, if you were referred, then this is the time to mention the name of the person who referred you.
Paragraph Two – Why are you perfect for the role?
This is where the examples of your skills come in. The second paragraph is your opportunity to showcase your skills and qualifications, and directly apply them to the role. Refer back to the job description within this paragraph, and support your statement with evidence. It’s simply not enough to say you have experience in graphic design, for example, or that you have excellent time management skills. Anyone can say these things, include examples.
This is your letter and your opportunity to stand out from the rest, so use it! Incorporate examples from your career where you have produced some excellent graphic design work for a client, or where you have managed your time exceedingly well.
Don’t be afraid to shine; modesty will not secure you the role. However, there’s a fine line between confident and cocky! Be honest with your achievements and don’t overexaggerate or brag, because if you are hired and have embellished the truth, even a little, your employer will know.
Paragraph Three – Why will you be an asset to the business?
You’ve told them who you are and why you’re suitable for the role, but what will you bring to the business? Outline your career goals, bring back that research you’ve done surrounding the company and its competitors, and demonstrate why they need you.
Perhaps you’re applying for a social media position and have noticed how you can improve their presence online; tell them! Demonstrate the experience that you have mentioned previously, and show them why this role was made for you.
Paragraph Four – Conclusion
This can be a brief paragraph where you reiterate your interest in the role, thank the recruiter for considering your application, and direct them to your preferred method of contact (phone or email) for the next steps. Mentioning that you’re keen to meet the employer for an interview will show that you are really hungry for the role, which is always a good sign for a recruiter.
That’s all there is to it! Make sure you proof your cover letter, and have another pair of eyes to give it a once over before you send it, along with your application.
Good luck! If you need any further advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re more than happy to help!