How To Make The Most Out Of Your Cover Letter
If I asked you how much time you spent on your CV, making it look neat, appealing and interesting, you would probably say that you have worked on it quite a bit. But how much time do you spend when it comes to writing a cover letter?
The cover letter is your chance to distinguish your application from others’ and goes hand in hand with your CV to ensure that your potential employer is interested and curious to get to know you better. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are writing your next cover letter.
Keep it formal. As much as some companies’ job adverts might sound quirky and modern, you are still applying for a job. Keep your cover letter as formal as possible but do try to find the right dose of ‘cool’ to show that you have understood the company’s image, if applicable. This will show that you can find the right balance between professionalism and fitting with their image.
Show your personality. Hand in hand with the previous point, this is a chance to show a bit of your personality, too. Whilst you want to list some facts and experience, try to make it sound like you and let the company catch a glimpse of who you are. There are thousands of templates on the internet on how to phrase certain things but try to only use these as a guideline, not as a given.
Format it right. Whilst there might not be as many guidelines for cover letters as there are for CVs, make sure your cover letter has some sort of shape or form. You’ll want neat formatting, nice font and spacing – this is not the time to get your most adventurous fonts out but to show that you are capable of being able to conform to stylistic guidelines. In terms of sections, try to keep it down to three or four paragraphs, which are in themselves coherent in topic.
Vocabulary and style. Your cover letter is your time to show the potential employer how knowledgable and suitable you are for the advertised position. Don’t go overboard but sound convincing and confident, avoiding phrases such as, “I think I’d be quite good at that”. Try to refrain from abbreviations (‘I am’ instead of ‘I’m’) and switch the terms up from time to time. For example, don’t use the word ‘job’ five times but instead alternate with words such as ‘position’, ‘vacancy’ or ‘role’. Furthermore, vary your sentences and try to avoid starting every one with “I”.
Content. In the opening, include information such as stating the position you’re applying for, where you found it and a brief summary of one or two sentences stating why you think you would be suitable for this particular vacancy. Then, tell them a little bit about your previous or current role and what experience from there you can incorporate in the new position. Give a bit of further information of qualifications or other experiences, such as voluntary work, and how this adds to your suitability for the job.
Do not forget to state why you want to work for that particular company as it shows that you have done your research and spent time learning more about them. Optionally, or depending on what is requested in the job advert, you can also state your availability and salary expectations.
Proofread. Definitely proofread your cover letter more than once. Especially when you’ve been sending a lot of applications, it is easy to mix them up or get confused. Pay attention to details such as:
- greeting: have you addressed the right person?
- advertised position: have you described the advertised position as they have, e.g. when they are looking for a ‘sales assistant’, make sure you haven’t stated ‘sales advisor’ or similar.
- spelling mistakes: have you spelled the addressee’s name correctly? The company’s name? Are there any other words that look a bit funny?
- paragraphs: do the paragraphs sound coherent and do they make sense? Are the transitions smooth and easy to read?
Cover letters are a two-way-street: you have to do your part in making it look and sound appealing and interesting but it also has to fall into the right person’s hands. However, in knowing you’ve done the best you could, it is easier to accept a potential rejection and not retrace it to your cover letter or CV. Good luck!