When applying for a job, a cover letter makes a big difference to how your CV is processed. Why is that? It’s because most applicants don’t bother with them or write a poor one. This leaves the recruiter searching for key information themselves. Drawing on our 30 years of experience, we offer you top tips to get the formula right for your cover letters. So, you can stand out from other applicants and the recruiter can easily see why you’re the right candidate for the job!
When writing your letter it helps to be specific. Instead of “Dear Sir/Madam” use the person’s name. It might not be in the job advert but it isn’t difficult to find who works for the company on LinkedIn or via Companies House filings. Even if you don’t get the right name, showing you’ve done your research by naming a relevant person is better than being generic.
In the first line you should refer to the job reference number (if there is one) and the name of the post you’re applying for. The recruiter is likely to be recruiting for more than one role or may have two positions with similar titles. You want to ensure your application is attached to the correct role. When you attach your CV ensure the file name includes your own name, not just “CV”. Recruiters get hundreds of CVs daily, changing the file name of each is a lot of time lost. You want them to spend their time on your application, so allow them to do that.
Match your letter to the job specification
You need to write a new letter for each application. Recruiters will spot if you’ve just written a precis of your CV as your letter and are recycling it. The main paragraph should show how your experience relates to the person specification in the job advert. It’s not difficult to do and it doesn’t need to take long, just ensure key aspects are covered.
If you have a particular achievement, award or experience which you’d like to highlight to the recruiter, then do so. Perhaps put it a separate short paragraph to keep it noticeable.
Include key details
Online applications involve sending your CV and automatically include contact details you signed up with. They don’t usually include things like notice periods, which can be an important detail. You can use the last line of your cover letter to let the recruiter know whether you’re immediately available or how long your notice period is.
Also make sure that you include you contact details on the letter. The mobile or email you signed up with may be out of date. Also, if the recruiter has them to hand they can contact you right away! Sometimes recruiters need to move very fast so a phone number and email is best. Even if you can’t answer the phone at work, the recruiter can leave a message and you can call back on your break.