Job applications can be stressful and it’s often difficult to decide what you should or shouldn’t include in your application. But if you want to prove to a new employer that you’re the ideal applicant then it is a good idea to include a cover letter and an absolute must if the job description or advertisement requires one.
Your cover letter is the first important step towards being offered an interview. In fact, some prospective employers will refuse to accept your resume if it does not come with a cover letter.
Your cover letter is important because it gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself, show your personality and give a good first impression. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t walk into a party or gathering, approach someone and just start rambling at them about your life, would you? No. You’d shake hands, introduce yourself, find out a bit about them and carry on from there.
Your cover letter can be the deciding factor in whether your resume is even considered for a review. It’s important to take the time to carefully craft your cover letter to show the hiring manager who you are and why you’re the candidate they’ve been looking for. It’s not as daunting as you think. Read on to find out why.
The most important thing is that your cover letter is easy to read. Don’t try to fill the page with a description of everything in your resume. That’s not the role of a cover letter. This is your chance to show what you can bring to a position over and above the strengths and experience found in your resume.
Avoid fancy fonts and colours, as this makes it difficult to read. This is a professional document, so make sure it looks like it. Aim for short and sweet, give the facts, and if they want more, they’ll find it on your resume.
Don’t sell yourself short
While your resume will do a lot of your talking for you, you can use your cover letter to your advantage and let the reader know just how good you are. It should take some of the raw data from your resume and explain why it is applicable to the position you’re applying for. Highlight the qualifications, skills and experience you have that are most relevant to the role and take the opportunity to make the case for why you’re a good match.
Rather than saying you “lead the sales team”, for example, tell them about the change you introduced that helped your team increase revenue and by how much. Be specific about what you brought to your last role and keep it relevant to the role you are applying for.
Remember, however, that this is a cover letter and not the resume, so keep it simple.
Use a tailored cover letter for each position you’re applying for and highlight the parts of your resume most appropriate to the job by giving specific evidence showing you are right for the role. Generic cover letters can be a good way to show how lazy you are or how little you care about winning the position.
Pay attention to the details of the job listing.
Most companies will have some sort of online profile, so do a bit of research. Include what’s relevant to the role in your letter.
Keep is short and punchy
Keep it brief! They may have hundreds of applications to work through. It’s not cost-effective for them to have to read long and detailed cover letters, especially if the letter doesn’t show you’ll be a good fit for the role.
Include a “Call to Action”
Make the most use of your final paragraph by including a call to action. Different closing sentences will suit different situations. You may want to use it to tell them why you’d like to work with them, why you feel passionately about the role, or why you’d be the best candidate for it. Be sure to spend time crafting the perfect closer.
Take the time to review your cover letter
Before you finalise your cover letter, it’s a good idea to have someone you trust look over it. Your cover letter needs to be reviewed for any spelling or grammar errors. Apart from not being professional, its shows poor attention to detail.
If you are not confident in your writing skills – and there is an art to writing a good cover letter as you can see – speak to one of our Career Consultants at Résumés for Results. They specialise in writing cover letters specific to the position you are applying for.
We provide and specialise in professional resume and CV writing services, cover letter development, interview coaching, career coaching and job search advice across Australia, including all capital cities and regional areas. Our professional resume writers and career consultants bring years of experience to the table, with a full range of career services available. Résumés for Results are here to assist you to succeed.