Are you fed up with spending hours struggling to write the perfect cover letter? It certainly can seem like an impossibly difficult thing to do. You’ve probably thought to yourself, “I don’t know where to start!” or “I want to sound confident but not arrogant” or “I don’t know what to write about myself!”
During my time working in recruitment, I have shortlisted and sifted through hundreds of job applications, so I know firsthand what it takes to stand out. While writing a cover letter can be a daunting task, it can also be a breeze if you know how to prepare in writing one. I’m here to tell you the inside secrets on how to write an enticing cover letter that will get you through the door and landing an interview. Read on below for my six-step guide!
Step 1: Understand the Process
Before filling out a cover letter template, it’s important to understand what the recruiters want to know. When going through applications for a job, most employers will have a shortlisting system. Some companies, usually larger ones, have a structured system that involves scoring your application on several different factors. Smaller companies do not always work like this but will be evaluating you in the same way.
Step 2: Do Your Research
This is the most important step – you must know the details of the job you are applying for! Research is so important for a real chance of getting an interview. How are you going to sell yourself if you don’t know what they are looking for?
Note the specific skill and experience they are looking for. This can be found in the description of the job posting. The list of required and recommended skills is the single most important thing for the rest of this job application process, so do not miss out on this step.
Step 3: Be Mindful of Your Language And Tone
Consider what type of role you are applying for. If it is at a highly prestigious law firm, then you want your language to be very professional. However, if it is a modern and quirky marketing company, you might be able to use a slightly more relaxed tone.
Tip: Look at the company’s website and see what language and tone they use! Try to adopt this in your cover letter, as this will show them that you fit in well with their workplace culture.
This is one of the few things that you can’t get from any free template or cover letter example. You have to handle the tone of your writing with care, as it represents you as an individual. Here is a resource that will help you control and change the tone in your writing.
You also want to ensure you sound confident, but not arrogant. For example, there is a massive difference between: “I am confident networking and speaking to a wide range of people” and “I am the best at making connections, and your clients are guaranteed to like me.” You definitely want to sell yourself, but you also want to be likable and approachable.
Step 4: Write Your Cover Letter
Now it comes to actually write your cover letter! The key to writing an enticing cover letter is describing your employment history in a way that is easy for recruiters to score on the points system. Make sure that you mention some of the skills in your list from Step 2 and add an explanation of how you learned and have used those skills in your career.
Step 5: Make Your Cover Letter Easy To Score
I have been in situations where I have had hundreds of candidates apply for one job role. Having to individually read and score each one of these can be a lengthy and painful process; you’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to write a quality cover letter. If you are able to illustrate with your writing how you can meet and exceed the job role’s criteria, you are going to make it easier on the recruiter and ultimately leave a positive impression.
By following the recommendations below, you’ll be able to make sure that your cover letter is just the right balance between detailed and easy to score.
- Make sure your cover letter is no longer than two pages at most.
- Go through and make the key skills bold. This will help the recruiter score your cover letter more effectively and they will appreciate you taking the time to do this.
- Once you have written your cover letter, save it, and come back to it later. That is when you can read it through and check back for mistakes and spelling errors.
- Send your cover letter to a trusted family member, friend, or mentor to have them review before sending it to the recruiter. You can also reach out to Kelly for guidance – learn more about her consulting services here.
Step 6: Focus on the Look And Feel
Once your cover letter is written, the last step is to make it look professional. Keep this simple! Make sure you use a generic, black font that is no more than 12 point size. Any additional colors or strange fonts are not appropriate in a cover letter. Think of it this way, if you get the job, the employer will know that anything you send out on the company’s behalf will look professional!
Finding a job is difficult no matter how qualified you are. Use this guide to write the best cover letter possible but remember that sometimes there may just be someone who is a better fit or who is more qualified for the role than you are.
My number one tip is to just keep applying to lots of job vacancies with resumes and cover letters that are tailored to that company. Although it may seem like hard work changing your cover letter each time, it will be worth it.
No employer will expect their candidates to know the job inside out; this is why they provide training! Just use your cover letter as a way to prove that you have some of the skills they’re looking for already, but are also eager to learn. Good luck!
Kate is the founder and author of Honey & Watch. After being fed up with seeing all the ‘life hacks’ and ‘DIY’ videos online, Kate decided to start Honey & Watch to provide trustworthy information for women. With a professional background in recruitment, Kate writes blog posts on job searching, office life, and employment. She also uses her passion for research to write beauty and psychology articles based on the work of experts. Honey & Watch has free resources such as printables, job searching templates, and workbooks. Check them out here.