How To Write A Good Cover Letter
23 June 2023 at 10:34 am
What is a cover letter?
Your cover letter is kind of like an Instagram pic (stay with us here!).
If the picture is good, employers are much more likely to stop and read your ‘caption’ (i.e. resume) instead of continuing to ‘scroll’ to other potential candidates.
A good cover letter will catch an employer’s attention so they want to find out more about you as a candidate.
Can I use the same cover letter for each job I apply for?
No! Well, no one’s stopping you, but we definitely recommend tweaking your cover letter for each job.
Generic, copied-and-pasted cover letters don’t stand out. But a confidently written, factual summary explaining why you’re a great fit for that specific role? Much more impressive.
How to customise your cover letter for a specific job
Jenny Rosser, cofounder of Be. Recruitment says:
“Go through the job description and find the key skills the employer is looking for. Pick the most important ones and explain why you fit them (more on the best ways to do this below).”
You could also do a quick search on the company’s ‘about’ section of their website to find out their core values and goals as an organisation. Jenny shares that organisations often respect this: “referencing the organisation’s values and mission will show you’ve taken the initiative to go that extra step in getting to know them as a company”.
What tone of voice should I use in a cover letter?
Mirror the tone of voice the organisation uses. Look at their website, any social media accounts and even how the job ad has been written for clues.
If the organisation’s tone of voice is quite casual and bouncy, a formally written cover letter might come across as too clinical or out-of-touch.
On the other hand, a more conversationally written cover letter could be dismissed as unprofessional by organisations that usually write in a more formal tone.
If in doubt, aim for confident and factual.
Confident means not downplaying or being modest about sharing your strengths (you’re trying to sell yourself, after all!).
Factual means backing up those claims with evidence from your own work history – but keeping it about work. For example:
Without evidence: “I’m really good with people and managing teams”.
With evidence: “I’ve been in managerial roles since 2017, highlighting my aptitude for working with people and problem-solving at a team level.”
Give it a personal touch – but don’t go too far!
If you know someone at the company, or someone referred you to the job, briefly mention them in the first couple of sentences but don’t spend too long on it.
Jenny also adds,
“When you share why you’re applying for the role, keep it to professional rather than personal reasons.”
Employers don’t want to hear about how their team’s social events will help you make more friends, or how their salary packaging will mean you can pay for your pet’s vet bills, go on more holidays, or whatever it might be.
Make it about the work the organisation does, and why you want to get involved in pursuing those goals too.
Write it FROM you, not ABOUT you
Write in the first person (I, me, my, etc.) not the third person (he, she, they, him, her, their, etc.).
I.e. “My experience… I’m a great fit because… etc.” not “Stacy has spent 14 years in various roles across… etc.”).
Writing from yourself also means you’re writing TO someone – so make sure you address your letter to the contact person listed on the job application.
Applying for a job is NOT the time to be modest. Back yourself by confidently and factually stating your top strengths. Don’t worry about being ‘up yourself’ – recruiters want to know what you can bring to the table if they hire you!
Think about it from the employers’ perspective – they’re going to want to hire the best candidate, right?
Selling yourself is about just that – yourself! Never put other candidates down or make comparisons to others – just clearly state why you’re a great fit and how you’ll help the organisation achieve its mission if they give you the role.
Look the part
Make sure your cover letter LOOKS appealing and easy to read. That means making sure it’s not too long (about five short paragraphs max – and never more than a page).
Use bold, italics, and/or even underlining to highlight key points so they stand out visually to a recruiter who might be skimming through.
Make it easy for them to like you
Little things can make a big difference, so keep things as easy as possible for whoever is reviewing your application.
Saving your cover letter in the same document as your CV makes it easy for an employer to just keep scrolling and stay on your application. There’s less risk they’ll get distracted between skimming your CV and then looking up the file you’ve uploaded for your resume.
This article was originally published in Be. Recruitment.