Cover letters allow lazy recruiters to sift through the hundreds of CVs they have received for that job you want. So, put the effort in! And DO NOT copy and paste for each job, it’s really obvious when you’ve done it and no matter how well it’s written, it will end up in the “NO” pile. It suggests to the recruiter you are looking for any job, not this specific one.
A good cover letter is like the back of a book – it tells the candidate’s story in a way that wants the reader to know more.
Our top three tips to getting the cover letter right
Tip 1 is Structure: As I tell my 8 year old when he is telling me long winded stories – have a beginning, a middle and an end and keep it to the point.
- The beginning: Your first three sentences should explain what you want and what you have to offer in the simplest terms (i.e., “I’m an experienced Project Manager and I’d like to apply for the position of Senior Construction Manager that your company posted on SEEK).
- The middle: The second paragraph should explain why you’re perfect for this role.
- The end: The third paragraph should help your readers make their next move—Ideally, calling you in for an interview. Use this simple format to make your cover letter stand out.
Tip 2 is Content: Look at the job ad carefully, there are hints there on what they are looking for. Normally on the job ad it says things like “we are looking for….” Or “the successful candidate will have these experiences….” Or “must have this….”. In your cover letter respond directly to these points. What are the things in your career history that demonstrate you have these skills, knowledge, experiences? Bring these out here.
Tip 3 is Personality: Demonstrate your personality by the tone you put into your writing. This doesn’t mean you should use exclamation marks!!!!! Or CAPITALS. It means to demonstrate how you think and act eg:
- As per my CV you will note that I have extensive experience with negotiation.
- I successfully negotiated over $1.5M in materials savings for the Blue Horizon project.
In the first example, I get a sense of someone quite reserved and I’m worried if I employ them they will keep asking me to go to other documents to reference things.
In the second example, I get a sense of someone who knows their numbers, proud of their achievement and quite focused.
You can’t go wrong with investing quality time in getting the cover letter right. If nothing else it’s great prep for the interview!