How to Write a CV Cover Letter
Nobody enjoys looking for work. It’s not fun scouring the internet for job openings, sprucing up your CV, or preparing for difficult interviews. Writing an excellent cover letter is the most difficult part of the procedure for many people. It’s difficult to know where to begin with so much conflicting information available. Is it really necessary to have one, especially if you’re applying online?
What Experts Say
Almost always, the answer is yes. Sure, there will be occasions when you’re submitting an application online and won’t be able to attach one, but Jodi Glickman, a communications expert and author of Great on the Job, advises that you send one whenever feasible. “It’s your best chance of catching the eye of the HR person or hiring manager, as well as a crucial opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition.” In a competitive employment market, standing out is crucial, according to John Lees, a UK-based career strategist and author of Knockout CV. Even still, everybody who has ever written a cover letter understands how difficult it is to get it right. Here are a few pointers to get you started.
Do Your Research
Find out more about the company and the position you seek before you start writing. Of course, you should read the job description carefully, but you should also look at the company’s website, executives’ Twitter feeds, and LinkedIn profiles of employees. Because you should not send a generic cover letter, this research will assist you in customising your cover letter. It will also assist you in selecting the appropriate tone. “Think about the culture of the company you’re applying to,” Glickman recommends. “You might take more risks if it’s a creative agency, like a design company, but you might pull back if it’s a more conservative organisation, like a bank.”
Before preparing your cover letter, Lees recommends reaching out to the recruiting manager or someone else you know at the organisation. You can “ask a smart question about the position” in an email or a LinkedIn message. As a result, you can begin your letter by mentioning the encounter. “Thanks for the useful talk last week,” you might add, or “I recently spoke with so-and-so at your company.” Of course, getting in touch with someone isn’t always possible — and you might not get a response. That’s OK. It’s still worthwhile to give it a shot.
Focus Your Cover Letter on the Future
The cover letter, according to Glickman, should focus on the future and what you want to do, while the CV is meant to be a look back at your history and where you’ve been. “Think of it as a connection between the past and the future that explains what you want to do next and why.” Because of the pandemic, employers are less likely to expect you to apply for a job you’ve previously held.
“Millions of people are changing careers freely or involuntarily,” says Glickman, “and they need to pivot and reassess how their skillset connects to a different function or industry.” You can use your cover letter to describe why you’re changing careers, for as from hospitality to marketing. Consider it a chance to market your transferable skills.
Start Your Letter Strong
“Most people start their letters by saying, ‘I’m applying for X job that I saw in Y location.’ “What a waste,” Lees says. Instead, start with a powerful sentence. “Begin with the punch line,” advises Glickman, “why this position excites you and what you offer to the table.” “I’m an environmental fundraising specialist with more than 15 years of experience searching for an opportunity to apply my abilities in new ways,” you might write. “I’d love to add my expertise and passion to your growing development team,” you might continue. Then, instead of rehashing your résumé, insert a phrase or two describing your background and relevant experience.
You want to grab the eye of the hiring manager or recruiter, who is likely to be perusing a stack of them. But don’t make an attempt to be amusing. “Humour can easily fall flat and sound self-centered,” Lees explains. Also, avoid using common platitudes. “Say something direct and energetic, like ‘Let me draw your attention to two reasons why I’d be an excellent addition to your team.'”
Mention it in the first phrase or two if you have a personal connection to the company or someone who works there. Always address your letter to a specific person. “It’s typically possible to uncover the name of a recruiting manager on social media,” Glickman explains.
Hone in Your Personal Value
Hiring managers seek persons who can assist them in solving difficulties. Show that you understand what the company does and some of the issues it encounters by drawing on the study you completed earlier. These don’t have to be particular, but you might describe how the pandemic has affected the industry. “A lot of healthcare firms are overwhelmed with the necessity to offer high-quality care while ensuring the health and safety of their employees,” you might write. Then explain how your previous experience has prepared you to satisfy those needs; for example, explain how you solved a similar situation or share a relevant accomplishment. You’ll need to show proof of the things that set you apart.
Adaptability and the ness to learn rapidly, according to Lees, are two talents that are applicable to practically any employment right now. Include any brief examples you have that exemplify these abilities. For example, if you assisted your team in making the transition to remote work, explain how you did so and what resources you used.
Get Your Enthusiasm Across
“It’s rare that you don’t get hired due of a lack of abilities,” Glickman adds. “It’s because no one believed your tale, that you really wanted the job, or that you knew what you were getting yourself into.” Hiring managers will choose the candidate who makes it appear as if this is their dream job. As a result, make it apparent why you desire the job. Lees adds, “Enthusiasm expresses individuality.” He recommends writing something along the lines of “I’d love to work for your firm.” Who wouldn’t want that? You’re the industry leader, and you’re the one who sets the standards that everyone else must follow.” If you’re not enthusiastic about some part of the firm or the role, don’t bother applying.
Watch The Tone
Simultaneously, avoid being overly flattering or saying things you don’t mean. The importance of authenticity cannot be overstated. “Even if you’ve been unemployed for months and would take any job,” Lees advises, “you don’t want to come out as desperate.” Be professional and mature if you don’t want your tone to detract from your message. Put yourself in the position of the hiring manager and consider “the kind of language the recruiting manager would use with one of the company’s clients,” as a decent rule of thumb.
Of course, it can be difficult to determine your own tone in writing, so you may need to have a copy reviewed (which is usually a good idea – see suggestions below). When evaluating letters for clients, Lees says he leaves away “anything that sounds like desperation.”
Keep It Concise
Much of the advice suggests keeping it to one page. However, Glickman and Lees agree that much shorter is preferable. “The majority of cover letters I see are far too long,” Lees says. “It should be brief enough to be read at a single glance.” You must cover a great deal of ground, but you must do so quickly. This is where having a friend, old co-worker, or mentor critique your work can be beneficial. Request that they read it through and point out any areas where you can make cuts.
According to Lees, sharing your cover letter with a few people is a terrific idea. Rather than sending it out and asking, “What do you think?” be precise about the type of response you’re looking for. Request two things in particular. First, check with your friend to see if your main point is apparent. What is the plot of your story? Is it possible for them to summarise it? Second, inquire about the letter’s flaws. “Others are more sensitive to desperation, overselling, over-modesty, and underselling,” Lees says, and they should be able to spot areas where the tone is incorrect.
When Submitting a Cover Letter Isn’t an Option
Many businesses now employ online application systems that do not allow for the submission of a cover letter. You might be able to put one in the same document as your CV, but this isn’t always possible, especially because some systems only allow data to be typed into specified boxes. Use the format provided to demonstrate your competence to perform the work and passion for the position. If at all feasible, locate someone to whom you can send a brief follow-up email emphasising a few key areas of your application.
Things to Remember When Writing your Cover Letter
– Start with a powerful statement that explains why you want the job and what you can bring to the table.
– Keep it short and sweet – a hiring manager should be able to read your letter in a single glance.
– Share an accomplishment that demonstrates your ability to deal with the issues the company is facing.
– Try to be amusing; it usually falls flat.
– Don’t send a boilerplate cover letter; instead, tailor each one to the position.
– Don’t go overboard with flattery; instead, maintain a professional and mature demeanour.