Cover Letters: The Dos and Don'ts
Cover letters are both time consuming and difficult to master. It’s no wonder most job hunters cower at the thought of them and often leave this important document to the last minute. There’s no exact formula for creating your cover letter, the best ones require research, thought and time to perfect, which is something many job seekers don’t have. With this in mind, we've listed some of our dos and don'ts to keep you on the right track when creating your cover letter and we've even included advice from our recruiters to help you!
Researching the company you’re applying for is vital, but even more so, is subtly proving you’ve done your research within your cover letter. Make reference to work they’ve done, achievements they’ve earned or recent information they’ve shared, explaining why this information makes you both passionate about the role and perfect for the job.
Refer back to the job description
Help your potential employer see that you’re the right person for the job. Make it easy for them. Do this by taking the requirements and responsibilities from the job role and tailor your description of your experiences and skills to match.
“ You can tell when someone’s done their research. Their cover letter is more relevant, highlighting their key points of experience with what the job role is asking for. ”
The world is full of people quite happy to exaggerate or lie about their skills and experiences. This may get your cover letter some attention but beware, many employers will be experienced in spotting the liars, and those that aren’t will soon find out. There’s a fine line between highlighting your skills and coming across as arrogant.
Find out who you’re talking to
Cover letters become much more personal when addressed to a real person. Show initiative and call up to ask who is dealing with the applications if a name isn't given and follow up with this person in a friendly and conversational way.
“ It’s important to engage with the real person. Address them by their name if you know it. ”
Forget to spell check
A mistake made time and time again by candidates, and one that employers are extra vigilant of, a small typo or spelling mistake can mean the end of your recruitment journey. Don’t rely on your spell check software either, scan through each line yourself or ask for a fresh pair of eyes.
Use the wrong company name
Reusing your cover letter can be detrimental, not least because it can lead to disasters such as failing to change the company name. This is a sure fire way to get your cover letter thrown straight in the bin. First of all it shows a lack of care in the fact that you haven’t bothered to spend the time crafting an individual cover letter for this company, but also that your attention to detail is not up to scratch.
“ Make sure you get rid of typos, obvious cut and paste jobs, font differences. It just looks messy and unprofessional. ”
Try to explain everything
Keep your cover letter concise and to the point. Ideally it should fit onto one A4 piece of paper and the narrative should flow smoothly between your skills and experience. However, each skill and past job role does not need to be explained in full. Simply sum up the most important points you want to get across.
Include every job
Relate your experiences and past roles to the company and job description. Only include the jobs that will impress you potential employer or adequately describe why you’re right for the job. Including irrelevant jobs will only distract the reader.
Before you send your cover letter off, check off these dos and don’ts to ensure you’re giving yourself the best chance and showing yourself in the right light. You may know you’re perfect for the job, but this is your chance to convince your potential new employer.
“ Cover letters can be as important as CV’s. They’re a good way to introduce yourself and really show what you have to offer. ”