Three paragraphs is a good length. You need to grab attention from your opening words. The first paragraph is your intro, second is the core of your cover letter (see ‘Be Specific’ below) and the third and last a wrap-up and looking to entice the reader to call you for an interview.
2) Write a cover letter for every application
That’s right, every application. Yes, it will take you another 20 minutes or so. Is an extra 20 minutes worth it to potentially land an interview? If not then why are you applying for the role? All too often candidates send applications to too many roles rather than focus on the roles they really want and take longer on those. Nothing suggests “I’m not that interested in your role” more than using the same generic cover letter for every application.
3) Address it to the name of the hiring manager or recruiter
Using their name will catch their eye and engage them to read on. It sounds simple, but it works. It also sets the tone that the cover letter has been written specifically for the role in question. Take the time to find out who the hiring manager is.
4) Make it memorable
You might be the first or the fiftieth cover letter the hiring manager reads for a role. At least 95% of them will have the same generic opening paragraph, yours needs to stand out from the crowd. Be creative!
5) Be specific
Writing that you believe you have skills that suit the job description is a waste of time. You wouldn’t be applying if you didn’t have the skills required. Write two or three succinct bullet point examples of how you have demonstrated in the past roles achieving the key requirements of the role you are applying for.
6) Match tone
We are not suggesting you change your own style but be aware of how the job advert was written as it often hints to company culture. If you know who the business is, review their website to understand their culture and match the tone in your cover letter. Avoid being too casual, if you are unsure it is always better to be too professional than too casual. If you feel it’s too big a stretch from your own personal style, then it may not be the company and culture for you.
7) Don’t rehash your CV
You are sending your CV with the cover letter so don’t waste your time and that of the hiring manager by effectively creating a modified version of your CV. The cover letter needs to jump off the page – short to the point. Of course, it will link back to achievements from your CV, but the detail on the cover letter should be very specific to the role you are applying to.
8) Get someone else to read it before sending it
Most employers value attention to detail and it is often a requirement in many roles. Spelling mistakes and errors in grammar may mean your application fails at the first hurdle.