Nearly every job application requires a cover letter these days, but what are they exactly? When we talk about cover letters, what we really mean is what are you going to introduce yourself to the employers?
Now, there are three main things that your introduction should do within the first four sentences that you must do.
- “I am writing to inquire about the opening for”
- “I offer X years of experience, in X speciality that I believe will make me a strong candidate for this opening”
- “The top portion of my attached resume highlights my career profile and three significant accomplishments that are also in alignment with this position”
- “I welcome the opportunity to speak with you if you feel that I am a strong candidate for this position of XXX at the company”
Now let’s analyse those four sentences:
The first sentence should be along the lines of “I am writing to inquire about the opening for”. It is a one sentence and that immediately lets them know what exactly you are applying for. The employer does not have to second guess what positions you want or if you are interested in other roles. It is straight to the point and gets their attention right away.
The second sentence is the meat of your cover letter. Its purpose is to sell and market yourself, showcase how your skills can add value to the particular position you are applying for. Connect the dots and do not leave your employers wondering whether you are right for the job or not.
The third sentence directs your employers to the exact location where they can find out more about you. Do it for them so that they do not have to ransack your resume for relevant information themselves. This is a great favour to the hiring team and making their job easier leaves a great first impression.
Lastly, the fourth sentence is simply a closing sentence and leave in contact details for them to follow up. You want to let them know that you are a “strong candidate” and asserting that in your cover letter lets your employers know that you are a confident but not arrogant applicant that deserves an interview.
Ultimately, people need help to think these days. Everybody is moving so quick these days and it is not because they are not smart, but rather you want to make sure that they recognise that you are open to the role and the employers should be thinking that way.
You do not want your employer to open up your resume and immediately set off red flags thinking that maybe you are not fit for the job. You want to remind them that they think about all positions in the company and feel that you can add value to certain areas that they need.
Why is a cover letter so important?
When an employer reviews two different candidates after interviewing them and realise that they can’t choose one over the other, a common practice is that they will go back to the resume and cover letter to analyse who writes and paints a better story for themselves better. A great cover letter could be the defining element in your job application that enables you to get the role over your competitors. Hence, it is absolutely crucial that you nail your cover letter right and avoid the following mistakes.
Major cover letter mistakes
- A cover letter that is too long
A cover letter should never be more than 1 page long. Most people would use about a half or three quarters of an entire page with a size 10 to 11 font size. Utilise the same font size as your resume/CV so that everything flows great and succinctly. A cover letter longer than 1 page constitutes as a definite red flag and HR or hiring managers have been known to immediately throw your application into the bin if they see a wordy cover letter.
- Lack of strong headers, bullet points, paragraphing
These tools allow your employers to quickly zoom into the areas that they are interested in. Nobody wants to read your entire passage or story and will definitely appreciate it if you present a cover letter in a reader-friendly format. Try to keep each paragraph to a maximum of 4-5 sentences and ensure each paragraph is talking only about a single point that you would like to make.
- A long-winded hook/opening sentence
Have a look at this example: “As a long time admirer of (Company Name), I was excited to see your opening for a (Job Title) as seen on (name of job website)”. Any red flags? Clearly a cover letter written in this manner is likely to be instantly rejected by the HR or hiring manager because they have no time for jargon. Try to think from their perspective, what do your employers want to know straight away from reading your cover letter? Would it be how you found the job application or what position you are applying for? That would be a great place to start.
These are some of our top tips to help you write your cover letter! We hope that it will be useful and we wish you all the best in your applications!