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How to write a cover letter (to get a job interview)

By Alex Harris

Nov 23, 2020

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When you’re applying for a new job, although writing a cover letter might not always be a requirement, when it is, it becomes the best way for you to present yourself to your potential future employer in the most convincing, honest, and personal way in order to make sure you get to the next step: the job interview!

A well written and informative cover letter goes beyond the information that could be already found on your CV and brings the reader to discover the drive behind your application as well as your past and future achievements. Before you start working on your cover letter, it’s necessary to have the requirements of the position you are applying for clear in your mind as well as the type of content you will write about in your letter.

There are more than a few points you want to keep in mind when approaching this task: do not focus on just the facts, those are already listed out in the CV. The cover letter’s goal is for you to show a more personal side, so maintain this throughout the letter. It is also where you present yourself and your skill. You need the reader to remember your letter over the many others they might read, so it’s important you make it as memorable and catchy as you can. However, your cover letter also needs to stand out for the right reasons. Below you will find the best tips to write the perfect cover letter that will get the attention of your future employers and land you a job interview!

What do I need to include in a cover letter?

A very common mistake people make when writing a cover letter is the fact they attempt to cover their whole life and career. Forget about small roles that might not be relevant to the job you are applying to, and forget about those life experiences that would have no impact on the letter’s receiver.

Everything that you decide to write about has to be carefully selected in advance according to how you are planning to present yourself and the value you are confident you can bring within the company you are applying to.

The most important three things you have to include are:

How your work experience meets the job requirements.
How your skills meet job requirements.
Why you want to work in this organisation.

The above might seem granted, but make sure you keep going back to them throughout your cover letter to prove you are the perfect candidate for the role.

Write a brand new cover letter for each job application

Recycling cover letters is never a good idea. It’s crucial that for each job application you write an original version that accurately responds to the job’s requirements. Generic cover letters will never catch the reader’s eye and most likely won’t get you an interview. Employers are good at spotting recycled sentences that feel reused, and you should avoid using statements that aren’t your own. Of course, feel free to feature your strongest points from one letter to another, as long as the rest of the content is produced ad hoc for the job you are applying for.

If you need some extra help for your cover letter

If you are approaching this task for the very first time, feel free to get a little help using a template. Have a look at this one we created for you to draft and construct your very own cover letter.

Start your cover letter in the right way!

First of all, include both the first name and last name of the hiring manager, you can use the traditional ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ but if you’re not sure of which one to use based on their name, do not use any title.

Many people start their cover letter by writing their name—forget about it! Your name is already on your resume (and on your email too), don’t waste your introduction by repeating something the hiring manager already knows. The best way to start is by mentioning the role you are applying for, which might help the employer understand from the start which job you are applying for.

Try and introduce yourself with a catchy first statement that reveals from the start your enthusiasm about the role as well as the company, and briefly hint to the ongoing passion you have for the job you are applying for.

In your cover letter, don’t repeat what’s in your CV

When you are asked to send a cover letter alongside your CV, you’re given the opportunity to tell a potential employer more about yourself and further prove that you are the perfect candidate for the role, so take advantage of this! Many people make the mistake of repeating what’s on their resume, therefore missing the chance to expand on what appears as mere bullet points on their CV.

If you aren’t sure about how you could do this, the following questions are what you need to ask yourself when mentioning your previous experiences in the workplace:

What kind of approach did you take when confronting the responsibilities of a previous job you mentioned in your CV?

Cite specific examples, including details on how you reach certain professional and personal requirements and go beyond them.

Highlight other aspects of your role that directly relate to your own work ethic and personality.

Why are you the right person for the company you are applying for?

Once you’ve written a few short paragraphs running through your accomplishments and successes it’s time you focus on why all your past experiences and passions make you the right candidate, specifically for the company you are applying at. Obviously, what you have been previously writing has been tailored to respond to the role’s requirements, but beyond that, you want to convince the employer that you are a plus for the company and that working for them is set to bring value to their structure more broadly.

In order to show this, you would need to know the company very well. Be aware of their business model, show enthusiasm and knowledge on their product or service and highlight the reasons why you would fit the company’s culture. Be as true as possible, try to flatter whoever will read this cover letter but go even further than that. If you’re really interested in the role you’re applying for, then surely you’ll have something to say about the company as a whole.

Conclude your cover letter with a call to action and a formal closing

You almost made it, now it’s time for a killing conclusion! There are a few fundamental points you’ll want to address in order to make sure your cover letter stands out.

Firstly, take the opportunity to briefly address all the relevant points you couldn’t mention previously. If you have anything else to say that you are confident could help the hiring manager in making a decision, here is where you want to mention it. Make sure you thank the person who has taken the time to go through your letter but don’t make it over-the-top—keep it short and polite.

To end your letter and leave the right impression, turn the final sentence in your cover letter into a call to action. This means that you should propose the hiring manager to react to your application. How? Here’s an example:

“Finally, thank you very much for looking at my application. I’m positive I can be an asset for *name of company* and its marketing team. I’m keen to further discuss how my previous achievements at *company name* can have an impact on your marketing goals.”

Last but not least, edit it! Read and re-read it and share it with someone who can give you feedback and make it extra polished. Good luck, you’ve got this!