January 7, 2021
Whilst the majority of job applications are made online via job sites, never underestimate the importance of a powerful covering letter. Even if it is attached to an email, a great covering letter can make the difference between securing a job and not being considered. This is particularly important where you don’t precisely fit with all of the key areas of the job advert. You can use the covering letter/email as an explainer to get your foot in the door. This all helps with finding a job.
A covering letter also shows the company that you are keen, are willing to go the extra mile and have absorbed the full details of the job description. When there may be hundreds applying for one job, a covering letter can make your application stand out.
You shouldn’t let the thought of composing a covering letter put you off. Once you realise that it is an integral part of the job application process and a superb way of highlighting your strengths, it becomes less intimidating.
So now you know why creating a covering letter is important, let’s look at the steps towards creating one to secure your dream job.
Example of cover letter
You should use a covering letter to drill down into the details. Include things like relevant skills and experience that might not show up on the application form. Create concise and factual stories of things that you have accomplished, along with the results you obtained and how you did it. Be sure to tie them into the position for which you are applying.
As for the layout, this is an example of a cover letter and what it should include:
Most importantly, don’t make the letter too long or wordy. If it is, it won’t be read. Keep it short, concise and to the point. Check out some cover letter examples online to get you going in the right direction.
Look at example CVs
You may be asked to send your CV or to fill in an application form. The covering letter can be included with either. If you are including your CV, don’t just attach it without checking it over. Look at good examples of CV online. When was the last time you updated your skills and current position? Does the CV template show the employer that you are the perfect candidate for the job? The hiring manager will read the CV and covering letter together, so they should work as a team. The first look at your application will be a quick scan over by a person or even computer software. Just as the 7-second rule applies when you walk into the room for an interview, the same thing applies to your CV and letter. But don’t let this put your off – once you know what recruiters are looking for, it’s simple to compile.
Show off your USPs
The best way to do this is to focus on your unique selling points (USPs). You will still need to list evidence to support your application but the emphasis should be on why you are special. Think of what you can offer that other candidates can’t. The best CVs provide the reader with an immediate sense of who you are and what you can bring to the table.
You should align your USPs with the job advert. Pick out the keywords or phrases that the employer has used and reiterate them. Don’t simply copy/paste chunks of text but rewrite important phrases in your own words. Also, beware of using excessive adjectives such as ‘results-driven’ or ‘self-motivated’ without any real solidity behind them. Instead, focus on the key results that you created. What you can use are powerful action verbs, such as ‘boosted’ or ‘coordinated’ instead of ‘responsible for’. These verbs should reflect what you achieved, not the tasks you performed. If you can include statistics or numbers to verify your claims, then do so.
Don’t rule out applying for jobs just because you don’t fit the profile 100%. As long as you are 75% of the way there, send in an application. Never point out the skills you are missing but simply focus on your strengths. If you have to refer to lack of knowledge or experience, add in a transferable skill that can make up for it.
Take your time
Job-hunting can be time-consuming and repetitive but by focusing on one application at a time and giving it your all, you have a far better chance of getting results. It’s easy to fall into the habit of churning out duplicate CVs and letters if suffering from redundancy, but this doesn’t always work, particularly as far as the covering letter is concerned. This is your opportunity to make an impact. It may take twice as long to complete an application but quality beats quantity every time. If the decision-maker can discern from your application that you have purely churned out the same old thing repeatedly, your CV and letter will go to the bottom of the pile.
Research is important. Before you even start the application, research the company and the position. Once you understand what the company does and how you will fit in, this will show in your letter and impress the reader. Make the content of your letter keyword-rich, actionable and pertinent to the post. Make a point of backing up your skills/experience with examples, much as you would do at an interview.
Get some help
If you are struggling to create a professional and powerful cover letter, you may want to consider getting someone to write it for you, such as a professional copywriter. Alternately, research ‘covering letter example’ online. Once you have a template, you can adapt it to fit different jobs. It may cost a little money but it will be more than worth it in terms of results.
So there you have it, our take on how to write a powerful covering letter. Take your time, don’t rush it and when you read it back, put yourself in the shoes of the person hiring. If you are impressed by it, so will they be.
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