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Tips for writing a great cover letter
A cover letter is your vital opportunity to attract the attention of a potential employer. There’s a real knack to writing a cover letter, but it’s a skill you can learn just like any other. Using the advice from some of the most experienced professionals in the industry, you’ll soon know how to do a cover letter like the pros.
Learn how to write a cover letter with these quick tips:
1. Personalise the letter to match the job listing
Address your letter to the appropriate person, quote the job title and reference number (if applicable), and add where and when you saw the advertisement. Also, include the date and your contact details.
2. Use a clear and concise structure throughout the letter
A good cover letter uses short sentences, simple language and is concise. It should be between 3-4 paragraphs in length and no longer than one page.
Begin by clearly stating why you are interested in the role and company. Next, demonstrate how your key skills, qualifications and experience can help the business meet its goals. Show how your interests and personal qualities make you the best fit for the job and close by thanking the reader for considering your application.
3. Tailor your language and content to the job requirements
A good cover letter is focused on the needs of the employer. It should express how your unique combination of attributes could add real value to that particular role in the company. Read the job description carefully so that you can match your most relevant skills, qualifications, knowledge, and experience to the job description with clear examples to support your statements.
4. Keep the tone positive and upbeat
The tone of your cover letter should be professional, friendly, and upbeat. You want to demonstrate that you are enthusiastic about the role and have a positive attitude towards the company. Avoid mentioning areas where you may be lacking the skills or experience listed in the job advertisement, as you can address these in the interview stage.
5. Demonstrate your professionalism
The quality of your cover letter indicates to employers your attention to detail, ability to communicate, and your level of professionalism. Ensure the grammar, punctuation, and spelling of your letter are of the highest standard. It’s a good idea to have it proofread by a friend or family member.
6. Give them a reason to read your resume
The point of a cover letter is first to introduce yourself and show why you are a good fit for the role and the company, but it should also act as something of a teaser for your resume. You want the reader to move from the letter to your impressive resume, so don’t simply regurgitate all of the information from your resume into your letter, but rather add tidbits so they will be enticed to continue reading.
7. Let your personality shine through
A professional letter is important, but don’t let it slide too far into a formal, robotic declaration of skills and experience. You should also aim for that genuine and open tone that will allow you to show that you have a personality that they will enjoy working with five days a week on top of your professional attributes.
8. Avoid cover letter clichés
Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows a raft of professional buzz words – and is already tired of them. Avoid using terms and phrases like ‘team player’ and ‘give everything 110%’. If you’d still like to include these sentiments, find a way to write them in your own language so they don’t get written off by the reader as meaningless filler.
9. Never edit straight after writing
If you’ve got the time, wait a day before going back over the letter for a quick edit. You’re more likely to pick up on errors or parts that could be improved if you come back to it with a fresh mind. When you want to send it away ASAP, at least go for a walk or take a break to clear your head before checking it one last time and hitting send.
Writing a cover letter doesn’t need to be a daunting task when jobseeking. Simply follow these five simple tips you can attract the reader's attention and make a positive impression that will help you get an invite to the interview stage:
- Keep your cover letter professional, positive and concise
- Tailor your cover letter to both the reader and the organisation
- Emphasise your strengths as a candidate and your suitability for the role
- Don’t be afraid to show some personality
- Avoid overused, cliché terms and phrases