A cover letter’s main objective is to introduce the applicant to the employer and give a brief summary of the applicant’s qualifications, work experience, attraction to the job and the company and the qualities that the applicant can bring to the position. Six tips to keep in mind when writing your cover letter that will help you stand out in the employer’s mind are:
- Personalise the cover letter by addressing it to the person that is advertising the position. If there is no name in the advertsiment, it is worth the effort to call the company and ask for further details about the position and ask who the appropriate person is to address the cover letter to.
- Identify the attributes that make you unique. As your cover letter will be measured against other applicants who will generally be of the same level of knowledge and expertise, it is essential that you give yourself a competitive advantage over the other applicants. Ensure that the skills you include in your cover letter are aligned with the skills mentioned in the job description as a pre-requisite for the position.
- Address the key selection criteria outlined in the job description. Briefly outline in your cover letter the tasks performed in your previous jobs that are similar to the tasks you will be required to undertake in the position you are applying for, to indicate to the employer that you have experience in a similar position.
- Highlight you professional accomplishments. The achievements you outline in your cover letter should be relevant to the job you are applying for; this will make you stand out against the other applicants.
- Carefully consider the format and layout of your cover letter. The best cover letter format is a business letter layout which should not be more than one page long and should address why you are writing the cover letter, how your skills can benefit the organisation and how you intend to follow up on the progress of your application.
- Follow up on your application by calling the appropriate person and confirming that your application has been received. This shows the employer that you are keen on the position and are taking the initiative to follow up on your application, which will help you stand out in the employer’s mind.
Do not use generic cover letters as they can be easily spotted by the employer and they do not give a good first impression. Keep in mind that the aim of a cover letter is to draw the employer’s attention, so that they want to know more about what you can offer the company and progress to your resume. An employer will not bother reading a resume if the cover letter has not done a good job at selling you as being the best person for the advertised position. An effective cover letter highlights your key attributes and experiences and leaves the employer wanting to learn more about you.