Brad McDonald | 01 August 2019
A stunning cover letter - next to your resume - is THE way to leave an amazing first impression. Through a cover lover, you do not simply introduce yourself. A great cover letter promotes you and your potential (without being too braggy), to ultimately get you your dream job. Still, many job seekers get it wrong when writing one. We understand that. With tons of elements to consider putting in only one or two pages, writing a cover letter isn’t easy. Well, guess what? Here’s how to nail yours:
The average job receives on average 249 resumes, Glassdoor. Knowing that recruiters and hiring managers receive tens, if not hundreds, of cover letters a day, you want to stand out. Make your candidate summary worth the read! This starts with great content. And in this case, great writing. This is what you should consider when writing a cover letter:
Tell something new: A mistake most job seekers make is that they simply copy and summarise what’s already in their resume, and barely elaborate on it. Why mention your responsibilities at company X, while it’s already mentioned in your CV? Rather connect your experience to the role you’re applying for, and show how your previous responsibilities will help you successfully handle your future obligations.
Tell a story: Just like with every type of text, it simply is more fun and easier to read when it has a nice flow. So tell a story. With a beginning, middle and end, in which you easily move from one sentence to another. Don’t just sum up your experience, or jump from one topic to the next.
Focus on your future: As most of your past is to be read about in your resume, your cover letter forms a perfect opportunity to focus on your future. For example: write about your career aspirations and how you see this role fit to it, and address how you’d take on the tasks of the role you’re applying fore.
Connect to the job description: Having trouble deciding what to write about? Use the job description as a guideline. Pick some of the responsibilities that fit your experience, and describe how you’re capable of handling these.
Give examples: To verify and prove you’re the one for the job, make sure to illustrate your experience and motivation with great examples. Are they asking for great problem-solving skills, for example? Tell how you’re the one fixing that issue. Don’t be afraid to be specific, feeling that you’re not highlighting all of your experience. Recruiters and hiring managers are also aware that your cover letter is just a glimpse of what you’re capable of.
Tone of voice: Are you applying for a role at a large corporate? Write formally. Or a more laid back startup? Consider writing a bit more spontaneous. Do your research before applying and adjust your tone to it. It's crucial to ensure you’re presenting yourself as a good culture fit!
Be authentic: We can’t emphasize this enough: be unique! Hundreds of letters to plough through, you want to make sure your letter leaves a smile on that recruiters face. And what better way to do this by adding a personal touch? There’s just one version of you, and being your utmost self will definitely do the trick.
Close strong: Use the final two or three sentences to go out with a bang. This part is what you’ll be remembered on. Again, briefly summarize how your experience makes you the perfect fit. Keep it short, yet memorable.
A great story isn’t worth anything if your articulation isn’t on point. Simply put: make sure your cover letter is grammatically correct and has the right spelling. A real no-brainer, but - unfortunately - often done awfully wrong. If language isn’t your strongest point, ask for help! Get someone to proofread or rewrite your letter for you, so your message is passed on successfully. Also, try taking your letter to the next level by varying your wording and using synonyms.
A very simple way to improve your cover letter is by improving its set-up. Start with an introduction, followed by a body and a conclusion. Make sure it’s scannable, by for example using bullets and paragraphs. Skip Comic Sans, and use a font that’s readable and often used - using a size between 10 and 12, depending on the font. Keep your letter short (not more than one or two pages!) and - if not requested in another format - save and share it in PDF format. This way, you can be sure the layout doesn’t change after sending it.
Don’t be sloppy. Spend another 10 to 15 minutes reading your letter before sending it to filter out the last mistakes. It’s even best to do this the day after you’ve written the letter, as you might be dealing with a writers gaze. Start with a fresh mind and eye, and nail that finishing touch.
A great cover letter is a way to lock in a lasting first impression. Making that extra effort can be worth its weight in gold in securing that job!
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