Try and get the fundamentals right because you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Sometimes a cover letter can be the difference between securing an interview and missing out. A well-written cover letter allows a hiring manager to see your value, experiences and achievements in a cohesive and well-written format. It can demonstrate your way with words, particularly for jobs where written communication is key.
Normally a cover letter should be no longer than two pages (between 1-2) and should focus on describing why you want the job, your experience and what makes you a good fit for the role in question. This is a good opportunity for you to directly link your past experiences and current skills with the exact particulars with the job you are applying for. The more you can customise your cover letter to suit the role in question the better.
Getting the basics right
If you do want to include a cover letter, its important to get the basic right, and you would be surprised at how many candidates make basic mistakes, like including hiring manager and companies names from previous job applications, so always make sure you have the correct name of the recruiter or manager, especially if you use a template letter. Always say the title of the job you are applying for, to make it clear to the hiring manager, as they will likely be hiring for several positions.
Your latest and greatest cv
Make sure you are attaching the best and newest version of your CV along with your cover letter, word document is preferred as you want the recruiter/ hiring manager to be able to open it. (tips on writing a great cv coming soon).
Linking to the actual job
Make sure that you refer back to the job description! Eg if the job has mentioned they want good team management, outline what team management experiences you have from past jobs, what challenges you faced and how you overcame them. If they give a list of duties, reference them as well “I am good at organising stock due to my 2 years at job xyz”.
What are you doing now?
If you are currently working whilst applying for a new job make sure to detail what you currently do, what are your tasks and duties? What are you responsible for? If there are any relevant anecdotes make sure to briefly write them down; eg the particularly challenging time when two of your support colleagues were on annual leave and you successfully supported the entire office by yourself ”.
This is your time to set yourself apart from other applicants! Do you volunteer? Great! Detail where and why you do this. Write about what you enjoy doing in your spare time, as this could be an excellent way for you to differentiate yourself from other applicants.
Make it interesting and unique if possible, as this will catch the eye of the recruiter or manager.
To often than not, a generic letter will accompany a job application where specific sentences and facts will have no relevance to the job in question, please don’t fall into this category, the cover letter is designed to help you sell yourself for the job in question. It allows you the perfect opportunity to do so outside the parameters of a standard cv, so please make good use of it.