Jobseeker Advice  /  Cover Letters

Cover Letters

Well-constructed cover letters can have a tremendous impact on a potential employer’s first impression of you. Why?

When you apply for a position there will be at least some, and sometimes many, other applicants with similar skills and experience to yourself. You have direct competitors, so you need a way to sail above the rest. That can come through a well-crafted cover letter, the purpose of which is to make your application stand out.

There are no fixed rules or best style of letter, but the following quick tips may assist you:

Always take pains to make contact with the hiring manager before you apply for a job. This is a place to make a good impression and make yourself memorable for when your resume crosses his or her desk. Introduce yourself and the position you are interested in and try and ask a couple of intelligent “qualifying” questions. You can then distinguish yourself even further by referring to this telephone conversation in the cover letter like this: “Thank you for your time earlier this week on the telephone. Your positive responses to my questions helped to confirm that my credentials closely match the requirements of the <> position with <>.” An added benefit is that you can name the hiring manager personally, too.

The sole purpose of your cover letter, combined with your resume, is to secure an interview, not get the job – that comes later!

Keep your cover letter to one page and leave enough “white space” for the letter not to look too busy. Nice big margins and short paragraphs that are precise and to the point. Avoid being overly audacious in the tone or substance of the letter, you may appear arrogant. Best to avoid telling the hiring manager that you are the exact person they’ve been looking for. Critically, look to address the key elements that the organisation is looking for in terms of how your experience is directly relevant and how their organisation can benefit from you being part of the team.

Your letter must ask for a meeting:

“I trust that my application will meet with your approval and I look forward to an opportunity to meet with you personally.”

and you should double check your spelling and grammar.

If you are unsuccessful in securing an interview, call and ask for feedback about your application. If you don’t know what you did wrong, how can you improve next time? Take on board what you are told and try and incorporate it into your next job application.