by Morgan McKay
‘Please send your C.V. and covering letter to…’
Staring at the blank page trying to think how to bag that awesome job you’ve just been eyeing up. It’s a tricky one! How are you going to stand out, grab their attention and get through to the next stage? Well, this is it! A cover letter is your chance to show your future boss (hopefully) that you are the key candidate for the role.
More often than not, people fall into the ‘that will do’ category and fill their cover letter with random buzz words or ‘copy and paste’ from previous cover letters resulting in:
a) a waste of time for the hiring manager and…
b) a distraction from the actual skill and qualities you do have that suit the role.
Here are our key tips for winning at cover letters:
1. Your first paragraph should tell them why you like the company
This is your first chance to show that you have an understanding (a real, in-depth, understanding) of the company. The more in-depth, the more you show that you are keen to join the company.
If you don’t have some neat little story about how you grew up with the brand and it inspired your life…. don’t worry there are other options. How well do you know the company? Take a look on their website and think what does this company offer that you specifically like. Evidence this with key facts. Yes they might have a good location and salary but in a world where you’re not supposed to answer ‘money’ to why you want a job, you need to dig a bit deeper and find something more.
They have won an award – “I would like to work for an award winning company that can teach me best practice. As you have won award X, I believe this would be a great opportunity for me to do that”
Their social media has posts about charity work they do – “I would like to work for a company that contributes to charitable causes because it’s important to me to support causes outside of work life. I would like to work for X as I will be able to contribute through work also and like that the company does this”
They have a large page on their website about the training they provide to staff – “I am always looking to improve and develop and I would like to join a company that supports this. On your website, I have seen that you invest heavily in your staff through training and this is something I would be keen to get involved in around my role”
Have experienced their service or product before – “I have previously bought x products and experienced first-hand the quality and excellence of its features and design. I would like to work for a company where I am assured by first-hand experience of the excellence of the products and I fully support the product sold”
You support the MD or direction of the company, they have had a good year financially…
It can really be anything that stands out that you like that can be twisted into a motivation. Just try to personalise it to yourself!
2. Tell them why they should hire you
Going through the job description, pick key qualities they have specified you need for the role or alternatively responsibilities that you know you could meet giving examples of previous situations.
Analyse and develop website functionalities – “As part of the role description, you have outlined there is a need for analysis and development of website functionalities. In my previous role at X one of the monthly task was to develop the … of the website. This has given me the experience that I believe I would allow me to excel in this role.”
Diagnosing software issues and providing technical solutions – “This role requires diagnoses of software issues of which I have specific experience in and enjoy. When I was at company X I was required to monitor and track software looking for abnormalities….I enjoyed the problem-solving aspect and due to this, I had the shortest average response time in the company. This is a skill I hope to bring to company X if I was to be offered the position.”
3. Try to address your cover letter to a real human
Another tell-tell sign of a ‘that will do’er….
“to whom it may concern or dear sir/madam…..” A.K.A “Hello I can’t be bothered/ I’m one in a million.”
If you do really want to grab their attention, do a little searching. Try typing the company name on LinkedIn and find the hiring manager, an internal recruiter or even the head of HR. It’s a small touch but will go a long way in showing the company you are in it to win it.