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The principle of a successful cover letter is simple: it needs to be sufficiently interesting to an employer to leave them feeling compelled to find out more by reading your CV, before finally deciding to call you in for an interview.
Hays’ Jane Mc Neill explains why cover letters are still as relevant as ever, and how you can ensure you write the best one possible.
Writing a cover letter to accompany your job application can really help you to stand out in the mind of a hiring manager or recruiter.
And certainly, don’t just copy and paste your cover letter for every position you apply for – make it personal and targeted every time.
It’ll be obvious to an employer if you’ve just edited a few words of the same cover letter that you send to everyone else, which may suggest you have little real interest in the vacancy. The first sentence of the cover letter will either grab the hiring manager’s attention or lose it, so it needs to powerfully demonstrate that you understand what they are looking for and need.
Here, then, are some of the things you should and shouldn’t do when writing yours. This will help to give you a clue of the appropriate tone to use in the cover letter and the points you should include, bearing in mind such factors as the organisation’s industry, culture and values.
Look at such sources as the organisation’s official website and social media profiles, its executives’ social media profiles and any online employee reviews. This information is easier to find than it has ever been before, so you really don’t have much excuse for getting any names wrong or not addressing the cover letter personally to the hiring manager.
Instantly communicate your unique selling points that will help to solve the hiring manager’s problems, such as relevant industry knowhow, skills, experience and achievements, instead of the generic ‘I’m applying for the role of ____.’ If you’ve come across this opportunity via a friend or have a previous connection with the organisation, mention it.
Maybe you were previously introduced to the hiring manager by this person because they thought you were a good fit for the role?
Your cover letter needs to communicate that you are genuinely interested in the opportunity that the given role represents and why.
This means the letter needs to be tailored, and not just a standard letter that you’ve edited.