How many times have you seen this at the end of the job advertisement?

“To apply, please attach your CV and cover letter”.

In my experience I’d say one in every ten applications is submitted without a cover letter. If you don’t attach a cover letter, there’s a good chance your resume won’t get read. Nearly all hiring managers want to see a cover letter.
Most hiring managers and recruiters will ‘skim’ through your cover letter to check a couple of things like:

a) Can this person write well??Will they be able to prepare reports, briefings and presentations? What about emails to senior staff or clients?
b) Is this person qualified?
c) What experience do they have?
d) Do they have the right skills and attitude?

You can imagine how many applications are submitted for jobs that have the title:

  • Accounting graduate
  • Junior web developer
  • IT Systems Support Officer
  • Graduate Engineer

If you want to get the reader’s attention?- you must make your cover letter stand out.
Here are five quick tips to improve your cover letter.

1. Address your cover letter to the hiring manager.

Never write “Dear Sir/Madam”. This shows that you haven’t done any research! How would you feel if you received a letter that had Dear Sir/Madam? Wouldn’t you prefer?if it was personalised with your first name?

2. One page cover letters.

If your cover letter is more than one page, there’s a good chance it won’t get read and you will miss out on convincing the reader to look at your resume. Keep your cover letter to one page – maximum!

3. Use bullet points.

Imagine having to read big slabs of text? I don’t think you’re motivating the reader if you have long paragraphs and sentences. A good tip is to take a long paragraph and see if you can turn it into 4 – 5 bullet points. Bullet points attract the reader’s eye and make it easier to read!

4. Sell your strengths!

Come up with a list of your strengths that relate to the position. Check that these are the same strengths being asked in?the job advertisement. This is exactly what the reader wants to see. How your strengths will benefit their organisation.

5. End with impact.

The key purpose of your cover letter is to motivate the reader to read your resume. You want to spark their interest and get them thinking ‘wow this is a great cover letter – I can’t wait to read more about this applicant’.

Final thoughts – how to improve your cover letter:

There are literally dozens of tips for your cover letter. These five tips are important so please take them on board. Don’t forget that your cover letter is very different to your resume but is equally important. So take the time to perfect it and you will be well on your way to an interview!

If you haven’t completed our free course yet – check it out. Step 5 covers cover letters in more detail and may help you uncover a few things you hadn’t thought of!