When applying for jobs, we try to make sure our CV’s are top-notch; documenting every experience we've had professionally, with impeccable references. But what often gets overlooked is the equally-important cover letter.
The cover letter can sometimes feel like a “waste of time”, or a “task”, and because of this there a few of us that have used a template and just fill in the blanks for each application. This seems to be easier and perhaps more time effective, however it is actually hurting us in the long run.
Cover letters are the first point of contact with your potential employer, thus making sure you represent yourself in the best possible way is very important. So, here are some tips and tricks to remember when writing those tricky cover letters.
Addressing your cover letter to a specific person is always a great way to open the communication. It shows the company that you are willing to do research and go that extra mile to be professional. If the job advertisement does not include a name, try to find out who the recruitment manager is for the company. If you can’t find the recruiter's name then possibly look to find the head of the company’s department to which you’re applying. Even if you get the name wrong and ‘Sally Small’ doesn’t read your cover letter, using a specific name is much more impressive to the reader than “to whom it may concern”.
While using a generic cover letter or a template isn’t the best way to impress a potential employer, we at the Institute of Careers like to follow a simple format for cover letters. This ensures our clients are covering all the key (employable) points about themselves. After addressing the cover letter correctly (Dear Sally Smalls), now's your chance to explain to the reader your understanding of the role, the company and why you want to work for them. With so many applications being received, you want to be able to set yourself apart and cut through the chatter. Showing an actual interest and understanding in the company, and their work, is a major tick to a future employer. If you need help or inspiration for something to write in this section try to look on the company’s website or social media accounts. However, remember DO NOT PLAGIARISE. You most likely will not be hired if you copy and paste the company’s information straight into your cover letter. After the opening it’s time to explain your experience and skills. Remember to mention the tasks and responsibilities you undertook at your previous jobs, which have a direct correlation to the requirements of the role you are applying for.
Important details to include when explaining your work history and attributes are:
- The time you worked in your current or previous role (how long for and how long ago)
- The company
- Your role title
- Your role responsibilities
To finish off, a quick summary of your interest in the position and what you think you can bring to the role, the company and the working team is a great way to sign off. Reiterate why you’re right for the position. Then end your cover letter professionally, and personalised:
Cover letters can seem like a bit of a drag, but they do in fact serve an important purpose in the recruitment process. To ensure you get that interview, and potentially that job, put your best foot forward and spend a little time on your cover letter. Representing yourself well and showcasing your abilities and professionalism through a cover letter can make a world of difference in the ‘job hunting’ process.