Our Top 10 Tips for Writing the Perfect Cover Letter
Updated: Jun 29
Everyone has heard of a cover letter, and most people have written one...but how many of us actually know how to?
An expert cover letter can be what lands you that dream job, but they are one of the hardest parts of the job application process. It is difficult to know how long they should be and what information to include, especially if you are just starting out in the world of work!
Luckily, we’re here to help. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about how to write a cover letter.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a document that you give to a potential employer alongside your CV when applying for a job. It is different from a CV because, rather than a general write-up of your skills and experience, the information on it relates directly to the job you are applying for.
This means that a cover letter will include information about why you want to work for the company, what you could bring to the role, and how your skills and experience make you suitable.
Why are cover letters important?
Cover letters are important documents that give you the opportunity to showcase why you are suited for a specific job role. A cover letter gives you room to talk about this and explain why you want to work for the hiring company.
When applying for jobs, many people either forget to submit a cover letter or choose to not write one. This is a big mistake as you will not stand up against other candidates who have written one.
10 ways to write the perfect cover letter
1. Be as specific as possible
When writing about your previous work experience and skills, be specific. Mention other companies you have worked for, or use anecdotes as examples. The more they know about you, the better!
2. Do not duplicate
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that their cover letter is just another way of wording their CV. Your cover letter should be original and include new content.
Try to think of your cover letter as a chance to convince the hiring manager in one page why they should hire you.
3. Hook the reader in straight away
Companies will read hundreds of cover letters, so you need to make sure that yours stands out. Why not open with a line about who you are, or why you are so passionate about this job in particular?
The bolder you are, the more likely the hiring manager is to read through your whole cover letter and CV.
4. Mention names
A sure-fire way to get the company to remember you is by mentioning names. For example, a cover letter should not be started with ‘To whomever it may concern’ or ‘Dear sir/madam’. Instead it should address the name of the person who will be reading your letter, if possible.
To find out who the hiring manager of the company is, take a look through their website and Linkedin, or email them and ask!
5. Use the correct format
Keep your cover letter to no more than one side of A4 paper and split it up into 3 or 4 concise paragraphs. Any longer and the hiring company may not even read it.
Being able to tell them why they should hire you on one piece of paper demonstrates that you can communicate effectively.
6. Be yourself
One of the most important things you can do is express yourself in your cover letter. The hiring manager will read a lot of cover letters, so it is good if yours stands out from the crowd.
Try and find a balance between professionalism and individuality by including important information about yourself and how it relates to the job role.
7. Highlight relevant skills and experience
Read through the job description and required skills list. Think about how your background and experience matches up with these skills and then mention it in your cover letter.
For instance, if the company is after somebody proficient in Microsoft Office, write about how you covered the basics at your school or in your free time.
If you are unsure about which job roles you qualify for with your skills, then check out our Skills Exploration Tool by signing up to our platform. From here we can match you with a whole range of suitable positions.
8. Talk about the company
A common mistake people make is creating one cover letter and sending it off to multiple companies. The hiring manager wants to know that you understand the specific job requirements for the company.
You could mention the company values and how they tie in with your own, what part of the job excites you the most, or the origins of the company. All of these things show to the employer that you did independent research and are invested.
9. Mirror their language
Mirroring the language used in the job description tells the company you understand what will be required of you and that you are not just duplicating your cover letter.
An example of this is referring to desired or required skills directly. If they want someone who is ‘able to manage their time efficiently’, write about a time where you ‘demonstrated time management efficiently’. Get the idea?
10. Proofread before sending
This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people do not double-check their cover letters before sending them in. Get a family member or friend to read over what you have written, or use an online spell-checking tool.
The most important things to keep in mind are that you should write a brand new cover letter for each job you apply for, and to let your personality shine through on the page!
All that is left to do now is read over it one last time and send it off! To find out more about the jobs that are available to you and to kickstart your career, sign up to our platform here.