How to write a great cover letter

How to write a great cover letter

When advertising a job vacancy, many companies and recruiters ask applicants to include a cover letter along with their CV. This is the applicants chance to summarize their successes and show their enthusiasm for the role.

So what should you include?  Here are some top tips from leaders in the recruitment industry.

Pete Noblet from Hays Recruitment in a recent interview said that there were five ways to open a cover letter that will ensure your job application stands out from the host of other applicants:

  • Highlight your job title and responsibilities
  • Point out an individual achievement
  • Use relevant keywords 
  • Refer to relevant news topics
  • Show enthusiasm

Dave Wilmer, Senior District President at recruitment firm Robert Half, has 8 top tips for those needing to write a great cover letter:

  • Don't just rehash your CV
  • Tailor your letter for the specific job
  • Be proud of your past accomplishments
  • Keep it brief
  • Address the hiring manager personally
  • Use keywords from the job description
  • Address any concerns, such as career gaps
  • Proofread 

Melanie Denny, a career coach, believes in the power of a cover letter to tell a story:

"How about opening up with a quote or thought-provoking question? Tell the story of why you're THE best fit for the role - not just about your credentials or experience, but the VALUE that you are ready to offer this new employer. You'll have to do some research first, but it may be worth it to spend the time, so you can give specific examples of how you can hit the ground running and help them solve specific problems. - Don't be extra-regular. You're brilliant and amazing and one-of-a-kind. - Don't miss the opportunity to sell yourself and stand out."

I think that's all good advice, and the three I'd focus on would be:

  • Tailor your letter for the specific job - Not all jobs are the same, and not all recruiters are the same.  You will need to write what's right to get in front of this recruiter for this role.
  • Highlight your achievements - These will be your achievements and no-one else's, so that means you'll immediately stand out.  Be proud of what you've achieved.
  • Check your letter and make sure there are no errors - Your cover letter might not get you an offer, but it can certainly get you a rejection.