Surveys have found that, on average, employers spend approximately half a minute scanning a job application.
All the hours of hard work and research you put into your job application are wasted if you can’t catch the attention of your would-be employer straight away.
But how do you stand out from a stack of hundred, possibly thousands, of similarly qualified, suitably experienced job seekers all pursuing the same job?
By writing an outstanding cover letter, of course!
The purpose of a cover letter is to ensure that you make a positive impact in the short time an employer spends looking at your application. What you write in a few short paragraphs should set you apart from your competition, make a positive impression on the recruiter and compel them to contact you to find out more.
A cover letter is, essentially, a sales pitch to a company telling them why they should employ you. It should highlight key information from your CV, while making an impact on the reader. Your cover letter should be memorable or intriguing enough to encourage a company to contact you for an interview.
Sounds simple doesn’t it?
Write a letter, highlight your best points, say something amazing and, hey presto, you have an interview! The truth is, writing a good cover letter can be really tricky.
So how can you write a cover letter to surpass all others?
The Supertemps team put their (very experienced) heads together and came up with an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide to ensure your cover letter rivals Keats and Byron in no time!
How to write a cover letter
Do your research
Before you even begin writing, it’s crucial that you research both the company and the position you’re applying for. The web is likely to provide best source of information and it’s important to make a note of the following:
- The company’s mission statement;
- Where the company is placed among its competitors;
- What’s involved in the position you’re applying for;
- What qualities should the successful applicant have?
If you research the company and understand it, you will write a more focused and succinct application and cover letter. Not only this, but your knowledge of the company will naturally reflect in the way you write your cover letter.
Make an impact with your opening statement
Yes, it’s important to state why you are writing the letter, but employers read the same template cover letter all the time. Introduce yourself in a slightly different way and you might just catch their eye. For example:
Administration and computer skills are two of my strongest areas of expertise. Through my years of experience as an office manager in the private sector, I have perfected my skills in leadership, time management, customer service and planning. It is the combination of these skills that makes me the best candidate for your PA to the managing director vacancy.
Use strategic formatting
Make your cover letter easy to read.
Incorporate bullet points to highlight skills or achievements, but don’t include too many or they won’t stand out. Write an odd number of paragraphs because it’s been proven easier to read, aim to write three or five. However, don’t write too much because appearing to have too much to say for yourself can indicate a lack of self-discipline (not to mention a high opinion of yourself)!
Keep it short, sharp and to the point at all times – if they don’t need to know it now, keep it for the interview.
Structure your letter
Each paragraph should have a direct focus with a different function. For example:
- Your opening statements, i.e. introduce yourself and saying what position you are applying for;
- Why should an employer hire you? Describe your relevant professional and academic achievements and, if the position has been advertised, refer to all the essential skills in the job spec, explaining how you are suitable;
- What can you do for the company? Always keep in mind what you can offer them, not the other way around (limit your use of the word “I” or it will seem like you are only interested in yourself). Here it can also be really useful, not to mention impressive, to use a real life example of when you contributed to the success of a company.
Go on, contact me!
You want to secure an interview. State that you ‘look forward’ to further contact with the company, and don’t forget to include your contact details!
And finally, always ensure you follow up, too. Contact the company to try and get some information on the progress of your application. Employees have reported winning an interview on the strength of this call alone, and often you can obtain useful feedback for future applications even if you weren’t successful.
- If the position you’re applying for is an advertised position, then keep the advert next to you and consult it regularly so that you can keep focused;
- Flatter the company, but be subtle. Refer to them as the ‘industry pioneer’ or a similar compliment.
- Reflect your personality; employers like this!
- Try to state things in a relevant and concise manner; limiting your cover letter to one page can be difficult but employers generally prefer it;
- Don’t overdo it. Sounding pompous and utilising overused clichés are huge turn-offs for employers. Sell yourself, but be unique and genuine.
Still not sure that your cover letter is hitting the right notes?
Our qualified team will be delighted to go over important job hunting documents, including your cover letter and CV, providing useful feed to increase you chances of success. Contact us today to arrange a meeting.