A cover letter can be considered one of the most important documents that you submit alongside your application and is usually the first piece of evidence a recruiter or employer will look at when examining potential candidates for their vacancy. This is ultimately your initial chance to make a great first impression and could even make or break the prospects of securing the job, so make it count!
In this blog, we discover the meaning behind a cover letter and how you can create the perfect version for each job vacancy you apply for throughout your job search. First of all, let’s explore what a cover letter actually is and why it’s essential to dedicate time to this document before applying for jobs.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is essentially a formal document that you send to a recruiter or employer alongside your CV when applying for a specific position. Unlike your CV, a cover letter is tailored towards a particular vacancy and will provide a brief overview of why you’re the ideal match for the job.
This is your chance to make a confident and effective first impression towards your future employer and take the opportunity to highlight the reasons why YOU would be the perfect candidate for the role based on your knowledge and expertise. Your cover letter allows you to express your personal brand further whilst highlighting WHY the employer should hire you against your fellow contenders. Submitting a cover letter also provides the opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the role, which isn’t so easily done on a CV.
Even if the cover letter is labelled ‘optional’, you should still create and upload one to enhance the possibilities of getting to the next stage in the job application process. Employers will appreciate the time you have taken to focus on this and will know how serious you are about the position.
Writing your cover letter
Understand what is required of the position
Your first key focus before you start to write your cover letter is to fully research and understand the responsibilities and expectations of the role you are applying for, whilst also studying the company itself to comprehend their culture and values.
Look out for keywords within the job application and refer to these throughout your cover letter. These are the most important aspects of the role to your potential new employer, therefore its important to relate your expertise to what is required of the position. Some companies and agencies even have keyword sourcing software that can quickly select a database of CV’s that match the desired keywords, so keep this in mind when constructing your cover letter.
Tailor your cover letter for each vacancy you apply for
It can be tempting to use the same cover letter across multiple job applications to save time, however, many employers and recruiters will notice this. Generic cover letters can be swiftly moved to the bottom of the pile, as it shows that the candidate has not taken the time and effort to focus solely on that specific role. This highlights a lack of enthusiasm and passion for the position, which can be easily identified by employers and recruiters.
Tailoring your cover letter for each role allows you to specifically highlight your key areas of expertise and experience that are required for that position. This is your chance to prove to your potential new employer that you fit the role perfectly and would make an exceptional asset to their team.
Don’t get us wrong, using a base template is extremely beneficial and this can be a great way to get familiar with writing cover letters, but just remember to tailor and personalise it so it doesn’t come across as a generic template or copy.
Present in a formal and professional structure
Just like most letter style documents; cover letters are required to follow a formal format and should look similar to a normal letter so it’s crucial to structure your document in a comparable layout.
Your cover letter should be no longer than an A4 page and, within a highly competitive job market, recruiters and employers will appreciate cover letters that are easy to read and understand from the offset. Be careful not to repeat what is already included in your CV and think about what will make your cover letter stand out against the rest.
Request a friend or family member to proofread your cover letter before you submit, to ensure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. We’ve all been guilty of looking at a document for too long that we miss silly errors, so having a second pair of eyes is key!
Address the employer and the company throughout
If you can, address the employer or recruiters name on your cover letter. Some job postings may not disclose this information, but we would recommend doing some research on the company website or via LinkedIn to try and source the name of the hiring manager or recruiter.
Throughout your cover letter, you should also utilise the company name, referring to them as much as you can to demonstrate what you can bring to the organisation based on your skills and experience. This creates a connection between you and the company and will provide the employer or recruiter with a better understanding of how you could make a difference whilst contributing to business success.