So, you’ve found your dream job and you’re ready to hit ‘send’ on the application.
You’ve perfected your resume but the job ad says you need to provide a cover letter, so you’re about to chuck together a few lines without much thought.
This is where you need to stop, take a deep breath and put a little thought and effort into what you’re about to write, because a cover letter is arguably the most important part of the job application process.
Not only is it the very first impression your potential new employer will get of you, but it’s a chance for you to share just how great you are in more than just a few bullet points.
So how do you craft the perfect cover letter? Let us help.
Address it to a specific person.
Starting your cover letter with a generic "Dear Sir/Madam" is a surefire way to give your application a one-way ticket to the bin.
That's why it's important to research who will be reading your cover letter - is it the company's HR department? Your future manager? The CEO?
A quick read of the job ad (and a bit of sleuthing on LinkedIn) may help you find exactly who you should address your letter to. Plus, it shows off the fact that you are great at
internet stalking research and have excellent attention to detail.
Use a person's full name (e.g. Dear Taylor Jones) rather than a gender-specific title - it's better to be safe than assume someone is a Mrs. when they could be a Ms.
If your Facebook stalking amounts to nothing, however, the safest way to start your cover letter is "Dear Hiring Manager" or "To Whom It May Concern".
Keep the tone consistent with the company.
A person applying for a job at a traditional law firm is going to write a very different cover letter to one applying for a position as a Snapchat Expert at a start-up.
So while it's great to use a template to get started, it's important your cover letter isn't generic (i.e. boring) and sells your personality.
Writing in the company's tone of voice will not only prove you've done your research but will act as an extra selling point as to why you are perfect for the position.
Don't use generic or overly formal language (unless you feel the job calls for it) and try your best to sound like a normal, human being and not a robot.
That means you should write a new cover letter for each and every job.
You may think you're saving time, but employers can always tell when you've copied and pasted your cover letter. They're pretty clever like that.
While it sounds like extra work, writing a new cover letter for each position will actually help you identify the traits and skills you have that are relevant to each job you apply for.
Plus, it means you can add in 'keywords' from each separate job description into each cover letter. Is one job asking for someone "innovative" and another wants someone "organised"? Write a customised cover letter for each.
Don't just repeat your resume.
Think of it like this: if your resume is a shot, then your cover letter is the whole cocktail.
Your cover letter is a chance for you to explain how your past employment history makes you perfect for this new position, not just recap it all over again.
Give examples of how each past position prepared for you the role of your dreams, and treat the letter as more of a story of your skills and not a series of dot points.
Read it over and do a bit of a spell check.
Have a spelling or grammatical error in your cover letter? Better luck next time.
Make sure you give each cover letter you write a read a few times to make sure it makes sense and is relevant to the job you are applying for.
Use spellcheck and give to a trusted friend to read and give you feedback.
And before you hit 'send', make sure you've spelled any persons's name, the company or job position correctly.
LISTEN: Yes, there are rules for open plan offices. And you should be following them.