The cover letter is the most-hated part of applying for jobs. Sure, putting your CV together and tunning it for each job you apply to is hard work, but nothing beats the monotony of writing cover letter after cover letter.
It’s a task that’s made even harder by the fact it’s a struggle to know what employers are looking for. What does a perfect cover letter even look like? Fortunately, we’re here to offer some top cover letter tips to help yours catch the eye of recruiters when it lands in their inbox.
First up, don’t copy and paste
As cover letter tips go, this may sound obvious, but employers can tell straight away when a candidate has pasted in and reused an old cover letter. You will probably be applying to a lot of similar jobs, so you can certainly have a template ready, but each company needs to believe that you have written the cover letter just for them.
If you haven’t written a cover letter before, reading through templates is a good place to start.
Tailor your writing to specific details in the job description
Again, seems obvious, right? You would be surprised how many people haven’t studied the job description properly. If the advert included a list of essential requirements, make sure you address each one, and explain how your skills fit the role.
Read up on the company’s recent history
There will probably be hundreds of people applying for the jobs you want, but one way you can stand out is by researching the company in depth. Don’t just tell them how great their company is, explain why.
Have they recently been in the news? Has one of their products sold particularly well? Have staff members published reviews on Glassdoor saying how great the work environment is? Reading the company website, and scrolling through Google are good places to start. Include a couple of lines showing that you have taken the time to look the company up.
Back up what you say with facts
Don’t just say the opportunity is ‘amazing’ and the company is ‘great’. Quote facts from your research. Have they been voted one of the top companies to work for? Have they published a report on their annual turnover? Are they doing something innovative? Prove to them how much you care about their company.
The same goes when writing about yourself. Don’t just say you’re a good team player, give examples of when you’ve worked successfully as part of a team. Instantly, your cover letter will feel more substantial.
Don’t hold back on selling yourself
Not everyone finds it easy to sell themselves, but now is not the time to be shy. You only get one chance to make a first impression with your cover letter, so shout about your achievements.
Picture someone you worked with and admired, and write a practise statement about them. The praise comes easy, doesn’t it? Now, do the same thing for your own achievements, and learn how to sell yourself.
Address it to the right person
Not all job postings include the name of the hiring manager. If they do, and you fail to include the name, get the name wrong, or misspell it, you will be committing one of the biggest cover letter faux-pas, and you will find yourself in the slush pile immediately.
If a name isn’t included, then you need to find it out. There should be a general phone number for the company, or, if not, a general email. Get in touch immediately and ask who to address it to.
Double-check it thoroughly and ask someone else to proofread
Check it, check it, and check it again. Proofreading errors will put employers off immediately, so ask an extra pair of eyes to make sure you’re not missing anything obvious. Even if your skills tick all the boxes, your cover letter is going straight in the bin if it’s riddled with errors. Reading backwards and reading aloud are two good proofreading tips.
Don’t be afraid to follow up on the phone
Our final cover letter tip may seem overly pushy, but you can really make yourself stand out by calling up the company a few days after you send in your application. A quick call to make sure your application was received shows how much you care about the position, and gives you the chance to tell the person you speak to how excited you are about the opportunity and that you’re really looking forward to hearing back from them.
Amy Durant writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To browse graduate jobs London and graduate jobs Manchester, visit their website.