I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about cover letters. Are they important? Do hiring managers/recruiters read them? And what does a good cover letter look like?

I’ve already written an article about tailoring your resume to get more interviews and you can read it here.

A well-written, compelling cover letter can show the hiring manager that you are a must-interview candidate.  I see lots of cover letters on a daily basis in my recruitment job, and unfortunately a lot of them are very forgettable.

Many are too long and most are very generic. Some mention achievements but they have zero relevance to the role the candidates are applying for. And many don’t bother writing a cover letter at all.

Your cover letter is your best chance to show the employer why they should invite you for an interview.

Here are my 4 top tips on how to write a stand-out cover letter that works:

Keep it concise

Nobody is going to read a long cover letter, so keep it short and sweet. Succinct and hard-hitting is MUCH better than a long essay.

If you only had 15 seconds to tell them what they needed to know about you, what would you say?

Put THAT in your cover letter.

All you need to include is:

  • Why you are writing (your interest and general qualifications)
  • Why you are qualified (highlighting specific accomplishments)
  • Thank you (and a request for information on the next step in the hiring process)

Customise your cover letter

Your cover letter needs to show, at a glance, why you’re a suitable candidate for the job. Recruiters view job seekers who send out generic cover letters as unmotivated and out of touch – so if you don’t take the time to customise your letters, you might as well not bother sending them.

You need to make sure you connect your qualifications to the job requirements for your target job in your letter. Make sure you include references to the specific accomplishments and results you achieved.

You might want to even make a table with two columns.  On the left, under the heading, “Requirements,” list several key requirements using language taken directly from the job description.

On the right, under the heading, “My accomplishments”, list an achievement to correspond with each requirement.  Nothing beats this for quickly and clearly demonstrating how well you match up.

Be Specific About Your Qualifications

Use the cover letter to connect your skills, experience, and education directly to the employer’s advertised requirements. When applying for a position, prepare a cover letter that picks up 3 – 4 key qualifications listed in the job description and be very specific with regards to what you can offer pertaining directly to those qualifications.

Make it as easy as possible for the potential employer to see that you are qualified for their job. You are much more likely to receive an invitation for an interview if you do the work for them.

Close Your Cover Letter With a Call to Action

Don’t close with something cliché like, “I hope to hear from you soon.”

Being assertive at the end of the letter can be beneficial. Consider something along the lines of, “I believe I can be a valuable addition to your company, and I look forward to hearing from you”.

A lot of job seekers feel it is too much work to customise their resume and cover letter for each position to which they are applying. However, if you aren’t landing job interviews now, but you could start getting them by spending 20 minutes customising your application, wouldn’t it be worth it?

If you are struggling to get interviews and need my help with tailoring your application and getting clarity on what your unique selling points are, just a single session can make all the difference.

Please feel free to schedule a no-obligatory phone chat to see if I could help: http://www.vcita.com/v/daba43a1 


Margaret Buj is an Interview Coach who’s helped hundreds of professionals across Europe and the US to get the jobs and promotions they really wanted. Margaret also has 9 years of experience recruiting for a variety of positions at all levels across Europe and in the US, primarily in technology and e-commerce sectors. If you want to find out how recruiters read resumes, why you are not getting hired, how to sell yourself successfully in a job interview, and how to negotiate your best salary yet, you can download her FREE “You’re HIRED!” video course.



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