Most candidates will probably agree that writing a cover letter is not their favourite part of the job hunt. And this is understandable, cover letters can be time-consuming and tricky to master.
Alongside this there’s the pressure of selling yourself and impressing the recruiter in just a few short paragraphs.
To help you out, we’ve put together a guide that will explain how to write a cover letter that will get you noticed.
Do your research
Hold off on delving straight into writing your cover letter. It’s better to start with some solid research first. Search for the company on Google and scour their website for helpful information.
Many companies have a ‘work for us’, or ‘meet the team’ page, which can give you an idea of the type of person they’re looking to hire.
The website may also give you some background information about the company and its key missions and values. You can also take your research one-step further by running an online search to find out if the company has been shouting about any big news or achievements recently.
What’s more, it’s worth doing some digging to see if you can find out the hiring manager’s name. Addressing the letter to them personally will grab their attention more than ‘sir/madam’.
One trick is to look for the name of the company’s internal recruiter on LinkedIn. And if all else fails, you could ring up the company to ask who you should address the letter to.
Now it’s time to look at the job advert. Think of the job description as your best friend – this will tell you the specific skills, experience and traits that the hiring manager is looking for. Highlight the keywords or write them down, you can then make reference to these throughout your cover letter.
Master the structure
Once you have a good idea of what to include in your cover letter, it’s now time to get the structure right. Remember, this should be a formal letter and needs to follow some general rules.
That includes putting your address in the right hand corner, the company’s address underneath on the left hand side and addressing the recruiter using ‘Dear, (hiring manager’s name)’. This will be followed by a few short paragraphs, which we’ll break down in more detail below.
In the first paragraph, take the time to introduce yourself. Give the name of the position you’re applying for and where you found the advertisement. Briefly sum up in a sentence or two why you’re the perfect candidate for the position.
In the next section, you need to talk about your key strengths. Do this by discussing relevant work experience and the skills you’ve developed from these opportunities. You can also talk about transferable skills from hobbies, education or volunteering. Always give examples or quantify these where you can.
The third paragraph should showcase your knowledge of the company and the industry. The idea is to prove to the hiring manager that they need you for the role. You must illustrate your passion and enthusiasm for working at their company. Choose something you like about them and explain why you like it (again, using that research from earlier).
Then, end you letter on a positive note, summing up why you’re the ideal candidate for their company. Thank the recruiter for their time and say that you look forward to hearing from them. You might also want to give your availability for interview.
Sign off with ‘Yours Sincerely’ if you know the name of the hiring manager, or ‘Yours Faithfully’ if you don’t. And of course – don’t forget to sign your full name at the bottom!
Keep it short and sweet
Aim to keep your cover letter on just one A4 page. Remember that the hiring manager is a busy person and will be reading a lot of letters. If you don’t keep it concise, you risk them becoming disinterested or abandoning your letter midway through.
To do this, include only the relevant information. If a sentence isn’t selling yourself to the hiring manager, it needs to be cut. So don’t waffle on – your writing needs to be engaging and to the point!
Don't forget to proofread
You’ve nailed your letter and it’s almost ready. But there’s one more step – proofreading. Neglecting this could ruin all your hard work as the hiring manager won’t appreciate any spelling mistakes.
Even a small typo looks unprofessional and suggests that you don’t have great attention to detail. So read through your letter several times and then get a friend to do another check just to be safe.
Tailor it to every role
Tailoring your cover letter is essential to impress the hiring manager. A generic template just won’t cut it. The recruiter wants to see that you’re passionate and enthusiastic about working for their company.
The thought of writing a cover letter can be daunting, but if you put in the time and effort, you can create a great letter that makes you stand out. Follow our advice and the structure above to ensure that you’re selling yourself to the hiring manager.