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.

Learn How to Write a Cover Letter – 7 Simple But Very Important Tips

Never has it been as important as it is today to learn how to write an amazing and effective cover letter. This simple part of your job application package is the single most important step in separating you from the crowd. Follow these seven simple steps and you will put yourself at the front of the interview line.

1. Always do you research and address your cover letter to the person you intend to reach by their name and job title. If you are submitting your resume and cover letter to a job posting that does not allow phone calls, do so anyway, but do it in a professional and courteous manner. Simply ask the receptionist or person that answers your call for the name and title of the hiring manager. Make sure that you let this person know that you are only asking so that you can submit your application in a professional manner to the correct individual.

2. Make sure that you sign the your cover letter in ink, I prefer black, but blue will work as well. This simple step will show the hiring manager that you and your resume package are original and not just another copy from a mass mailing by an uncaring applicant.

3. Keep your cover letter short and to the point. Never use more then five paragraphs and NEVER use more then one page! This is another simple step that will show that are considerate of the hiring managers time. The reader will always appreciate a short and to the point application much more then one that tends to ramble on and on about things that are not relevant to the job opening they are looking to fill.

4. Use a good quality paper for both your cover letter and your resume. Put both documents on the same paper stock. Also, make sure that the style and fonts that you use are the same or at the very least, compliment each other.

5. Be sure to highlight a couple of your proudest accomplishments and/or abilities. This will draw the reader or hiring manager into your cover letter and grab his or her attention. Remember, you are trying to make yourself stand out from the crowd and prove that you are the right candidate for the job. Never waste valuable space on your cover by describing your past jobs and back ground, that is what the resume is for. Your cover letter should always be written in such a way as to grab and keep the readers attention, make sure you are writing in your most positive manner.

6. Proofread, proofread and then proofread again. Nothing shouts “do not hire me” more then a misspelled badly punctuated cover letter or resume. I like to go as far as having someone else read it and critique it to me so it can be corrected in any way it needs to be. Make sure to send this out in “Perfect” form.

7. Last but certainly as important is to use a simple and easy to read font. Always remember that there are many other people out there vying for this same open position and this is your one and only chance to make a great and lasting impression.