a cover letter is an opportunity for you to stand out from the sea of other candidates.
Cover letters allow you to infuse your personality and connect with hiring managers in a way that resumes don’t.
If you’re serious about making that oh-so-important first impression and securing an interview, knowing how to write a great cover letter is essential.
the do's and don'ts
- Unless you're writing under exceptional circumstances (like returning to work from a redundancy or career break), there are a few basic steps to writing a cover letter.
- Address the hiring manager - by name if you can. Please do your best to uncover their name, as this will already set you apart from the competition. Then include the job you're applying for and where you found out about the job.
- Introduce yourself by outlining your immediate professional background (your role, industry, years of experience or qualifications if you're a student or recent graduate) and explain how the skills gained from this background make you the best person for the job.
- Explain why you want to work for this company specifically - possibly by referring to a project or campaign they've been involved in.
- Bring it back to why you're an excellent fit for the company and what you can contribute to its business objectives, vision and culture.
- Thank the hiring manager for considering your application and including a call to action and how they can contact you.
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- Don't send out the same copy-and-paste cover letter for every role you apply for. Take advantage of this opportunity to personalise and prove that you're the best candidate for the job.
- Steer clear of the dreaded 'to whom it may concern.' As mentioned earlier, try your best to find the hiring manager's name and title - usually posted on the job listing, company website or LinkedIn page.
- Remember that short but impactful is the way to go with cover letters, as hiring managers usually don't have the time to read more than a page. Make sure that what you're writing is relevant and structured. In the same vein, resist the temptation to recycle chunks of your resume - instead, see this as a separate space where you can impress from a different angle.
- Check your formatting as well as your content. Typos and grammar issues are easy ways to detract from your skills and experience and often mean your resume is instantly dismissed. Read over your work and don't rely purely on automated spelling and grammar checks - although they are great tools to help you spot a spelling error or a different way of structuring a sentence.