How to Write a Great Cover Letter
Don’t let yourself be daunted by cover letters; they’re an exciting opportunity to showcase who you are, and what you stand for. But how do you write something that will make you stand out from the crowd?
by Rob Eades / 2021-08-29
The job of your cover letter is to make the recruiter’s decision very clear and easy: simply put, that you're the best person for the job.
Still, actually finding a way to do so can be a tricky task. Your resume is just one in a crowd of qualified, driven people. How do you write something that will provide you with that all-important chance to shine through the page, and capture the attention of recruiters?
If you’re in the middle of your job-hunt, but becoming quickly exasperated by how many hoops there are to jump through - all just to get in with a shot of an interview - use these tips and tricks from leading career coaches and consultants to give yourself a bit of an extra boost.
A classic example of doing what it says on the tin, this course from job search strategist Jenny Foss gives us quick tips on writing an attention-grabbing cover letter.
1. Lead with a punch
Every. Word. Counts. People won’t want to read an essay, so make sure your cover letter is perfectly optimised: from the first word to the last, you should make it perfectly clear who you are, and what you can bring to the table.
2. Link with your CV
Think of your cover letter as a continuation of your resume. Your resume lists your past jobs and skills; your cover letter should show each one of those links to your potential new job. Are there any challenges you'll face taking up this new position? Don’t be afraid to mention them - but if you do, make sure that you prove that your experience mitigates these challenges.
3. Don’t let them assume
When writing your cover letter, make sure that you leave no gaps. For example, if there’s a break in employment, explain the gap. If you have a certain set of skills that are perfectly suited for the job, point them out.
Jenny Foss is back, and armed with more insights into the art of writing a persuasive cover letter.
1. Give them what they want
Job postings tend to be quite clear about what it is they’re looking for. That gives you a huge advantage, because now you know exactly what to give them. When you’re applying for a job, go through the company’s website and online profile and align your tone with theirs.
2. Back everything up
Recruiters can see empty words from a mile off. It’s all very well and good being able to grab people’s attention, but you need to be able to back up what you’re saying. Do you think you’re the perfect candidate for the job? Where’s the proof? Use bullet points to list your relevant skills and past experience and don’t be afraid to highlight some keywords.
3. Don’t rely on online submissions
Most jobs nowadays are advertised online. You send off your CV through an online portal, and attach a cover letter. The only issue here is that it’s so easy to be missed or dismissed. As well as your online submission, reaching out to decision-makers directly - via a platform like LinkedIn, for example - can bring humanity and personality to your job application.
So you’ve got tips for writing your cover letter sorted, but are you applying for the right positions in the first place? Get all the details you need to present your best self with LinkedIn Learning Director Jolie Miller.
1. Set clear goals
We all have a list of criteria that we look for in a job. If you’re reasonable with these goals then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to find the perfect fit. Use job search engines and their available filters to only find things that fit your criteria to give yourself the best chance of landing what you’re looking for.
2. Don’t. Be. Late.
There’s the old saying that if you’re early, you’re on time, and if you’re on time, you’re late.
The same can be said for job interviews. The last thing you want to do is to turn up late and be stressed when you should be showing off your best self.
3. Underline the reasons why you’re the best choice
When you’re putting yourself out there, you need to be confident that you’re the right candidate. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, you can’t expect other people to be confident in you. Mention every reason why you and you alone are the right choice, and how eager you are to start working.
Writing a cover letter is much easier when you already know you’re a great match for the company, and that they’re interested in seeing what you have to offer. Here, J.T. O’Donnell is here to help you ooze confidence and turn the hiring process upside down.
1. LinkedIn is your best friend
There is a suggestion that the best recruiters no longer post job openings; instead, they search for candidates themselves through platforms like LinkedIn. If this fact doesn’t give you the motivation to fully optimize your profile, then nothing will.
Make sure you’re following leading companies in your chosen industry as well as any others you might like to work for. Give yourself the best chance of being discovered.
2. Don’t just talk about yourself
If you want to grab the recruiters’ attention during phone call screenings or informational interviews, avoid just talking about you. Talk about the company instead. Show them that you understand their company and how much you appreciate what they do. Really show them what has drawn you to the organization.
3. Connect and follow-up
We all have our dream jobs: the ‘ultimate’ placement, the pinnacle of everything that we’re looking for. So if you find yourself in the position to land your dream job - like securing a meeting with someone high up in the company, for instance - you need to make sure you’re doing all you can to create a lasting impression.
After your interview, don’t be afraid to connect with the recruiter and follow up with them. Just make sure that each message is personalised. Don’t copy and paste a generic connection request; just like your cover letter, be original and make yourself stand out.