Everybody always talks about your CV. The thing is, your cover letter is just as important. For while your CV tells employers about who you were, the cover letter tells them who you want to be and where you see yourself going. And as they don’t get to employ your past but the person you are today, that’s important for companies.
So how do you write the killer cover letter? That’s what we’re going to explore today.
The big mistake that people make when they write their cover letter is that they pretend to be somebody they’re not – some stuffed shirt full of business-speak. This is a mistake for two reasons. First, everybody else is writing this way and so you won’t stand out. Instead, you’ll fade into the background of the also-rans.
Second, it isn’t you. That matters, because even if you do get invited to an interview and ultimately hired, who are they hiring? They don’t know, as you didn’t really present yourself honestly. That means there is a much greater likelihood that you won’t actually fit into the corporate culture of the place that you’re applying to.
So, my first piece of advice is to write as you. No, this doesn’t mean use slang or lots of jargon. It means that you talk about what is important to you and why you should get the job. This will make your cover letter fresher, stand out and will make it far more likely that when you do get the interview the business will actually be a good fit.
Use the structure
Of course, writing as yourself does not mean that you can be as creative as you want to be. You should not write your cover letter backward, in rhyme or turn it into a 10,000-word essay. There are certain expectations that you should meet.
First, it should only span one page. Second, you need to follow the actual cover letter structure that people expect. For the only time, you should defy expectation is when you unambiguously exceed them.
The normal cover letter is made up of four to five paragraphs. They are:
- Opening paragraph: This is where you establish how you found out about the position, introduce yourself and give a one or two sentence summary of who you are and what you’ve done. You’ll also mention their company directly and why you’re excited about working there.
- Paragraph two and three: Here you can introduce some points from your CV that you think are directly relevant to their business. Connect how you think they can make a difference. Make sure that you mention accomplishments, not just things that you’ve done. So ‘improved employee retention by 10%’ instead of ‘worked in HR’.
- Closing paragraph: Make it clear that you’d like to be interviewed and when you’re available. Detail what additional information should be included so that they know if something has gone missing. Thank the reader for their time.
If you follow this basic structure then the HR manager (or the computer program) will know where to find what information. That will mean they’ll actually find what they’re looking for when they consider your resume for those few seconds.
Check everything. Then check it again.
If a company sees a mistake on your resume they’re going to assume you’re going to make mistakes during your job as well. And why shouldn’t they? If you can’t even get something as important as your cover letter and your resume right, then you probably will make mistakes while you work there.
So check everything. Then check it again. Even better, get other people involved. Sharp-eyed friends are a good aid. Otherwise, get help online, like Grab My Essay or some of the many other professional services out there. At the least use a program like Grammarly (check out this Grammarly review on Woblogger). Because every mistake you manage to get rid of will hugely boost your chances.
A lot of people build a standard cover letter and CV and then send those off to every job they can find. They think that if they cast the web this wide, they’re sure to get a bite. The thing is, companies aren’t fish. They are very good at evaluating if your cover letter is just a generic one or if you sent it specifically to their company after doing the necessary research.
If you’re in the former camp, you can be pretty sure that they won’t be that interested. After all, they’ll assume you aren’t really either. If you personalize the cover letter, on the other hand, then you’re far more likely to get past the first few rounds. So do the research and plug in bits where you talk specifically about how your skills relate to the company you’re applying to.
The best strategy is to write that generic cover letter and then tweak it to fit the company you’re sending to. That can often be done in as little as half an hour and will significantly raise your chances.
If you’re are graphic designer, there are simple ways to design your cover letter easily.
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