Three Simple Tips for Writing Effective Cover Letters!

Dear Mr Smith,

It is with great excitement that I am writing to you to submit my application for your advertised vacancy.

As you will see from my attached CV, I have 20 years experience working as an accountant and am a qualified CPA. I have worked in the past with a variety of clients from a wide range of industries and I look forward to being able to bring this experience into your firm.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my application and I look forward to being able to meet with you in person for an interview.

Yours Sincerely,

Fred Bloggs. CPA

OK, so that is obviously not a real cover letter, however you might be surprised to know that if it were, it would not be even close to the shortest or most generic I have received as a recruitment consultant or as a hiring manager. There is not anything that is particularly wrong with the example cover letter above, but there isn’t really anything great about it either. It does nothing more than introduce your CV. In my opinion that is an absolute missed opportunity!

In preparing this post, I thought about running through a cover letter paragraph by paragraph. In the end though, I thought it might be more constructive write a short and sharp post that covers what are three very simple (but very useful) tips that I hope will help you land more interviews!

Tip 1 – How do you meet the advertisers requirements?

I see so many letters that talk generally about what skills, experience & knowledge that an applicant has. However, a lot of what the applicant has included does not actually address any specific requirements mentioned in the job ad. Don’t get me wrong, it is always important to showcase and to be proud of your experience & achievements. That said, if you want your application to really stand out, try to specifically address how your skills, knowledge and experience suit the position based on your understanding of the vacant role (from the ad, job description, etc.).

Tip 2 – Show you have done some homework!

If the advertisement you are responding to has been advertised directly by the employer (as opposed to a recruiter), try to learn about the company. Look at their website, talk to anyone you know that works or has worked there, Google search, etc. You can then use what you have learned in your cover letter. For example:

“Before writing this letter, I wanted to learn more about Xyz Pty Ltd and from my research was incredibly impressed with the number of positive customer reviews I found online as well as with the business being recently certified as carbon neutral.”

This can be a great way to show that you have a genuine interest in the role and the business as opposed to just sitting on a job site sending out applications to everything you see.

Tip 3 – If you are using a template letter make sure you update it!

If you are following the first two steps, the process of using the same letter each time may prove more difficult as you will be constantly changing larger parts of the letter to specifically address the role you are applying to. However, the structure of your letter and the opening and closing for example should be much the same. Try and always save a copy (Save As) rather than just overwriting your current template, and give the letter a unique file name. Something I have seen quite a lot of over my career is people sending in cover letters that might be addressed to other recruitment agencies or people and for completely unrelated roles. It is unfortunate when this happens (and I assure you, it happens more than you may think!) because the applicants have in many cases destroyed any hope of getting an interview for that specific role. So ‘Save As’, then ‘Save’ often!

I really hope you find these three tips useful when writing cover letters. If you have any questions about the process of writing letters or have some other tips you might like to share, please feel free to post a comment below.