Whether you’re applying for your first part time job at your local McDonalds or a full-time position at the company of your dreams, you need a cover letter. “By why?” I hear you ask, “It’s so outdated.” One of the most common things I hear in today’s market is that cover letters are not necessary, in fact, so many applicants just cut and paste from a previous letter.
So many people underestimate the importance of using a cover letter and personalising it to the job they are applying for.
So what is a cover letter actually for?
A cover letter sits in front of your resume and should be the first thing your recruiter will see. The point of the cover letter is to entice the recruiter and put them into the right frame of mind when reviewing your resume.
What can I do to better my cover letter?
- Know the company and who you are addressing.
Start your cover letter by demonstrating your knowledge of the company and your excitement that the position has become available. For example, a family member of mine has recently applied for a position at their dream company after a new role had just been introduced. In their cover letter, they freely expressed their excitement to see the position opening and congratulated the organisation on their expansion.
Because of her excitement and knowledge of the organisation, they were a shoe in compared to similarly qualified candidates. The old adage “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is definitely worth noting when it comes to writing your cover letter.
Go that one step further and do some research on the person you are contacting and use their name and title in opening the letter. Often when searching for jobs using search engines, it might not include who the person is that you should apply to. Usually, a quick google search of the email address or the companies Manager/HR Manager is a great and quick way to start.
- Make sure it’s relevant.
Don’t just change the name of the person it’s addressed to and adlib the company name too. Your cover letter is an excellent opportunity to explain why you are worthy of an interview and what makes you a fitting candidate. It’s said that recruiters spend 6 seconds looking at your resume, but this isn’t the case for your cover letter so really sell yourself with RELEVANT information.
Try to use key words or phrases that are used in the job advertisement. For example, if the job calls for someone “excitable, tenacious, and great with children” use those words in your cover letter. A lot of the time resumes and cover letters are submitted electronically, and this is often so recruiters can filter through submissions by searching for keywords. Using the same style of language in the position advertisement may be the edge over the competition you need to get that interview.
- Be Succinct
Although recruiters tend to spend a little bit more time reading your cover letter than your resume, they’re still only human and will get bored easily. If a cover letter drags on and on for pages, it puts the recruiter in a poor frame of mind for reading your resume. If they bother finishing your resume at all. Keeping your cover letter to a page or less is usually the recommended amount.
Overuse of dot points is ill advised but using them minimally and to address key pieces of information about yourself can be a good idea to make information stand out. A good way to use your dot points could include;
- “I have over ten years experience in marketing.”
- “I have worked in (similar or partner organisation) previously”
- “I have my Masters in Marketing from University of Western Australia.”
Incorporate some of these ideas when applying for your next job, and you’ll be on your way to being head and shoulders above the competition!
Written by Mason Devine
Mason is an Intern with Accelus and walking into a whole new world of possibilities as he is finishing his Psychology and Human Resource Management Degree. His passion for unlocking the potential in himself and others coupled with his natural gift of creativity is allowing him opportunity to expand his footprint internationally.