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17th June 2016
The best cover letters are those that are personalised, unique, and clearly highlight why you would be a good addition to a company. But they are often simply copy & pasted from the last application and sent off, hopefully after you changed the name of the company you’re applying to.
This is a tempting tactic since writing a proper cover letter can be a time-consuming process. But cutting this corner could be significantly reducing your chances of success. If you really want the job you’re applying for, here are some steps you can take to make sure you write the best cover letter you can.
This is a small detail, but important nonetheless. Starting a cover letter with the correct name will leave a much better impression than the generic “To whom it may concern”. More often than not, a quick Google search is enough to find out who will review the applications, and starting off by demonstrating your attention to detail will help you make a good impression.
When writing a cover letter, it is important to ensure that you’re making the right points. Rewording what is already in your CV is a complete waste of time for both you & the person reading the application. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid talking about anything in your CV, but a cover letter is your opportunity to convince a company that you’re a good fit for the role on offer, not to go over your work history again.
While every cover letter should be unique, the talking points you should be hitting will largely be the same. You should open the letter by stating clearly which job you are applying for. You should then briefly explain who you are and touch on your relevant experience e.g. “I have 6 years’ experience in Data Analytics”, not “I spent 2 years working in Microsoft, during which time…” This part of the cover letter is just a brief overview to gauge your level of experience. If they want specifics, they know where to look.
Next you should explain why you would be a good addition to their company. For this, you should have the ad open beside you, and make sure you touch on as many of the skills and experience they mention as possible. Using examples of successful projects you handled in the past to highlight these skills will make for a more personal, interesting, and persuasive cover letter.
Phrases like “I feel” or “I believe” are rampant in CVs across the world, despite the fact that they provide no real benefit. To some, these phrases will make you sound like someone who is unsure of their abilities. Others may find it irrelevant, because so many of the applicants “feel” that they’d be perfect. Words and phrases like these should be weeded out of your cover letter, and replaced with more confident words and evidence of your abilities. Don’t explain why you think you are a good fit, explain why you are a good fit.
There are a million mistakes you can make when you’re applying for a job, but the good news is that most of them are easily avoidable. With that in mind, if a job application comes in with mistakes that should have been caught, you’re highly unlikely to get a follow-up. While writing cover letters can be an exhausting and even tedious process, it is important to take a few extra minutes to tailor and proofread your application. This will help you avoid the obvious mistakes and greatly improve your chances of securing an interview.
I have worked as a writer since I began attending university, and have been working in marketing ever since I graduated. I aim to provide well-researched, fact based, original work that people will find useful and interesting. I have written hundreds of articles as both a freelancer and a marketing executive, and look forward to writing for Cpl.
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