How to write great cover letters
Your cover letter may be standing between you and your dream job
If you’re struggling to write cover letters or are questioning whether you should include one at all, you may find this e-book helpful.
Throughout this page, we will address:
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
The purpose of a cover letter is to:
Your cover letter should not repeat the information included in your CV, but instead highlight and draw connections between the CV items that are directly applicable to the vacancy.
Recruiters don't want to hire someone who just wants a job - they want to hire someone who has a strong interest in their role. Your cover letter should convey this interest.
Don't miss the opportunity to convey your interest and suitability by excluding a cover letter.
Should my cover letter be generic or tailored?
You need to tailor your cover letter to every position you apply for. This is because generic cover letters:
As such, including a generic cover letter could result in you missing out on your dream job – it would almost be better to not include a cover letter at all.
Conversely, tailored cover letters:
Additionally, taking the time to write a tailored cover letter gives you the opportunity to consider whether the role is really for you. This allows you to move on and apply for roles that are more suitable, saving both you and the recruiter time and effort.
Cover letter writing tips
Demonstrate you have read the job advertisement by making specific reference to the ad in terms of the client and details of the role.
Address the selection criteria - you should address each key selection criteria from the job advertisement.
Showcase your proven ability - recruiters aren't interested in self-praise. Instead, give examples of where you have demonstrated your abilities.
Communicate your desire for the job - give the recruiter insight into why you at least want to discuss the role, because it looks like it may be what you are truly after.
Your cover letter should not be a copy of what is in your CV. Think of yourself as a salesperson.
Having a cover letter that simply states “The enclosed resume will provide you with the information regarding my employment background, training and skills” does not assist the recruiter. Instead, be your own salesperson and explain why you are a great fit for the role.
Quality over quantity
It is a mistake to apply for every job you come across.
Most recruiters nowadays use software that immediately shows all the jobs a candidate has applied for.
For example, at 11 Recruitment we have candidates who have applied for 30, 50, or even more of our roles. This does not look good for a number of reasons.
In his research on this topic, Robert Coombs built a bot to apply to thousands of jobs at once. In his findings, Coombs discovered that the volume of applications he sent made no difference to how often he heard back.
So, instead of applying for roles en masse, we recommend you take a selective and consistent approach.
What to consider
Recruiters spend a lot of time reading cover letters, so they know what they are looking for and can quickly skim over applications to screen candidates. With this in mind, here are some key points to consider to help improve your chances of progressing.
Don't complain about other agencies. Complaining about recruitment agencies, employers or processes will reflect poorly on your character.
Don't include statements like "I have put a lot of time into my cover letter, only to have it ignored." This is an off-putting mentality, and a recruiter doesn’t want to spend time reading about how much someone hates their process before they’ve even started.
Leave out your references. Even if you think your references are amazing, you shouldn’t mention them in your cover letter, as it is too early in the process.You can find out more about why you should not include your references in your CV or cover letter by watching our video on the topic.
Use professional language. Make sure that the cover letter is written using professional language and is structured properly.
Address why you are looking for a new role. Be upfront about why you are looking for a new role, especially if it is outside of your control. For example, "The reason for my application is because my most recent employer decided to close their business.“
However, you should also take care to avoid badmouthing your previous employer, as this could make you look bad. Complaining about your last workplace may give the recruiter the impression that you are whinger. The recruiter may worry that you are likely to complain about them or a potential employer in the future.
Remember, the purpose of sending your CV and cover letter is not to get the job but to instead introduce yourself.
The two most important takeaways you should keep in mind writing your next cover letter are:
If you need some further assistance writing your cover letter or CV, you may be interested in our CV writing service. Click the button below to find out more.
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