We’ve all been there. Scrolling through job ad after job ad, you finally find one that sounds like you. In fact, you were made for this role. Your resume pretty much reads like the Skills & Experience section. So do you really need to include a cover letter?
Yes. The answer is always yes.
Unless a job specifically requests that you don’t include one (which would be super rare), always include one.
Your resume is great, but imagine yourself on the other side of the hiring process. Would you want to read resume after resume, listing reams of skills and achievements, without first some sort of introduction? Didn’t think so.
In fact, your cover letter is more than an introduction. It’s your opportunity to stand out. You get about 6-8 seconds to impress, so if your cover letter is awesome, there’s more chance your resume will be read. It’s a chance not only to highlight the points in your resume that are really important but also to link them to the requirements of the role.
It’s also a great way to demonstrate a bit of your personality and, of course, your writing ability. And if you do have any gaps or ambiguous detail in your resume (ie. maternity leave, travelling overseas), your cover letter is your chance to explain it.
So without further ado, here are a few tips for writing a cover letter that will jump off the page and into the interview pile…
This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many generic cover letters I read. You’ve absolutely got to tailor your letter to each particular job.
As it used to say in the Yellow Pages ad, “let your fingers do the walking”. Or I guess these days it would be “let your fingers do the clicking”. What I mean is, get online – onto Google and LinkedIn at the very least – and do some stalking! Find out about the hiring manager, research the company, its culture, and values.
It only takes a few minor tweaks for it to be personalised and it shows that you’re interested in the organisation and you’ve taken the time to give your application some serious thought.
Don’t be lazy, as it will show. If you want the job, make the effort!
No silly mistakes
Again, this might seem like common sense, but so many cover letters are rushed and end up containing silly mistakes. Don’t be a rookie! Be absolutely and utterly methodical. And if your attention to detail isn’t great, or your eyes are tiring from the screen, send it to someone else to proofread for you.
These are the most common mistakes I see:
Spelling mistakes in the hiring manager’s name
This is an absolute no-no. Everyone hates it when someone gets their name wrong! It only takes two seconds to triple check this in Google or on the organisation’s website.
Typing incorrect job title
It’s ok to repurpose, tweak and personalise a previous cover letter, but it’s not ok not to lie about your job title!
Being too generic
Everyone says they’re an organised team player. The hiring manager has probably read that sentence 15 times already. Triple check what you’re writing and ask yourself, is it unique to you? Bland and boring is instantly forgettable, so what is it about you, your story, your experience that will stand out?
Not a great writer?
Don’t worry. Why not ask your colleagues or friends for cover letter examples they’ve successfully used? You’ll still have to tailor it, but you can always get someone else to help you with the editing process.
You know what they say, practice makes perfect. So even if the right job for you hasn’t become available yet, pretend it has and get started on your application.
Finally, if you really want to get your dream job sooner, upskill yourself! The Promotable You AAA Resume Training includes not only how to design and write a fab resume, it also shows you how to write an epic cover letter (and there are even some “here’s some I made earlier” templates for you).
I hope you’re now feeling empowered and raring to go on the cover letter of your life. Stay tuned for more tips on how to supercharge your career and get ahead!