11 Tips for Writing a Cover Letter
4th Dec 2017
Don’t view the cover letter as an afterthought. It’s as important as your CV, if not more so.
It is your one place where you can let a little bit of personality shine through and expand on your key skills, so use it wisely and effectively.
Here are some tips for success.
1. Don’t regurgitate your CV
Don’t use the cover letter as a duplication of your CV. It’s an entity in its own right.
This is your chance to explain to a recruiter why you would be the perfect candidate for their job.
Use the cover letter to talk about certain skills and experience that you couldn’t fit on your CV. Tell the recruiter what it is about the company that really makes you want to work for them.
Don’t assume that the cover letter is solely for you jabber on about your skills. The CV is for that.
Use the cover letter to explain to the recruiter why you would be a great asset to their company. Talk about your passion for the industry; make it as personal as you dare. Recruiters want to see the person behind the CV.
3. Expand on your relevant abilities
Use your CV to showcase your skills and experience and use your cover letter to build on them.
Explain how you could put these skills to better use if you worked for their company, and what tangible results you think you could get.
4. Don’t limit your conversation to your education
If you’re applying for a graduate job, don’t be under any illusion that your education is all the recruiter is interested in.
The recruiter wants to know what else you can bring to the table, besides the key technical skills that you have acquired during your time in education.
If you have any volunteer experience or work experience, talk about that. If you have taken a gap year, explain what you did and what you learned from it.
Draw on anything that could set you apart from the other graduate candidates applying for the job.
5. Align the focus to your relevant skills
If you can’t meet all the desired skills, don’t apologise for it.
Talk up the ones you do have. Talk about anything else that you have that could be relevant. Don’t explain yourself or your shortcomings, remain positive throughout your cover letter (and your CV).
Focus on your strengths and mention your talent for being a quick learner.
6. Quantify your skill set
7. Tailor to every application
Make each cover letter bespoke to the job that you are applying for.
Yes, it might mean that you have to spend a bit longer applying, but the recruiter will know if you have sent out an edited generic cover letter, or if you’ve taken the time to write one specifically for their job.
And that could be the difference between securing an interview and being left out in the cold.
8. Avoid buzzword overkill
Don’t feel you have to bulk out the cover letter with adverbs and fluff that you think they might want to hear.
It’s great to draw on the keywords and a handful of buzzwords, as referenced in the job description.
However, overloading your cover letter with buzzwords such as “motivated”, “extensive experience” and “team player” is unnatural and jarring. Instead, ensure they are peppered naturally throughout.
9. Research the tone of voice
Read articles the company’s posted online, follow them on social media and get a feel for what and how they communicate.
You’ll get a great idea of their tone of voice, language and culture by doing your homework, and if you mirror it back to them in the cover letter, you can effectively demonstrate that you not only understand them, but that you would fit in.
Just as you don’t want to waffle on in your CV, you don’t want to waffle on in your cover letter either. Be as precise and tailored as possible to pique the recruiter’s interest, and save your great stories for when you can tell them, face to face.
11. Proof with a keen eye
Finally, read it, read it and read it one more time. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in it. If in doubt, give it to someone else to sanity check for you.