The Quick, Easy and Super Simple Guide To Cover Letters
Last Updated on 8th October 2020 by Freddie Chirgwin-Bell
Cover Letters are important!
A cover letter is an essential part of every job application.
They serve a specific purpose
According to Jobvite, 26% of recruiters read cover letters and consider them important in their decision to hire.
Another study states 56% of employers want cover letters attached to CVs.
CareerBuilder found that 49% of hiring and HR managers consider a cover letter one of the best things you can do with your job application.
Cover letters provide more insight about who you are and fill in details that cannot fit onto your CV.
Like CV writing there is an art to crafting a great cover letter.
You need to tailor it to the role and to the company.
Highlighting and focusing on those qualities and traits that will catch the eye of the hiring manager.
It should also be the last thing you write.
You have to make sure it further sells your skills and abilities to recruiters.
But with only 1 page to do this, you need to be clear and concise.
The only time that a cover letter isn’t needed is when the job advert says don’t submit a cover letter.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to help you get started on writing one.
First Things First
Do your research!
We’ve said it before and we will say it again.
You will already have plenty of research from when you wrote your CV.
Take time looking into the role, the company, the people, the culture.
Knowing this information makes it easier to incorporate key points into your writing.
Researching the company looks good and you can answer vital questions they may have.
Don’t forget to use the clues in the job advert.
Here are a few key things you should find out before you start writing:
- What does the company do?
- Who are their competitors?
- Who are their target audience?
- What does the role involve?
- What are the essential skills?
Answering these will give you the information on what to write in your letter.
Make it clear that you have the skills, attitude and experience that the recruiter needs.
Writing a Cover Letter
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. You cover letter should look like a letter!
Aside from this it should be well-presented, concise, and to-the-point.
Like your CV, it should match in style but also have an easy-to-read font, clear and professional.
Calibri and Arial are the two main fonts of choice.
Write short, concise paragraphs.
There are no hard rules for this but aim for half to two-thirds of a side of A4.
This should give you enough room to write and elaborate on your skills but not so much that you are going to ramble.
Being a letter you are going to want to address it to the correct person.
Do your best to find out who is going to read your CV.
Sometimes the job advert will say who you need to contact.
If it doesn’t, it’s time to do some detective work.
Check their website or LinkedIn company page.
Who is the HR manager for the business? Or is it the department head that will be interviewing you?
Still not sure? Pick up the phone and call them.
This will show initiative and interest in the role.
So always address with ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss INSERT NAME’
Still no name? ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ will have to do.
Now to write the letter
The opening of (almost) every cover letter is the same.
Why? Because it works.
It should answer the very simple question: Why are you making contact?
You should clearly state what role you are applying for and where you saw it.
This gives a clear message to the recruiter and they know exactly what you are after.
I wish to apply for the role of Recruitment Consultant, currently advertised on Morgan Jones’ website. Please find enclosed my CV for your consideration.
This isn’t an attempt to stifle your creativity, this is the tried and tested format.
You can rewrite it to better fit your application and circumstances.
For the rest of the letter, you can be much more creative.
Remember to keep the tone of your writing professional.
Think about the layout, format and tone of your writing.
Is it professional and suited for the job and industry I am applying for?
Once this is clear, show why you are suitable for the job.
Use clues in the job description and your research to highlight your experience and skills for the role.
Remember the “I did X that resulted in Y” formula:
- I was responsible for financial administration saving £5000 in potential lost revenue.
- I implemented a social media strategy that led to a 5% increase in sales
- I managed a sales team that increased average order value from £25 to £47
This formula is great for a CV, but for a cover letter you want to add context.
What was the situation or task surrounding this achievement?
This shows the whole story to the recruiter, reinforcing why you are the one for the job.
When faced with a blank page and a blinking cursor, you might use these phrases to help fill or “pad out” your letter.
A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t prove it by using a number then you shouldn’t say it.
Also remember that you’re not rewriting your CV.
Don’t repeat the facts you have already given.
Show the skills they want but give them a fresh perspective and extra information about the circumstances.
Throughout the letter, you should link it to how this can benefit this new company.
Do these achievements show that you can repeat your success at their company?
Does your career path match what they are offering?
An example could be:
During 2018, my role as a Recruitment Consultant made me responsible for increasing candidate registrations by 20% in 6 months. I achieved this by increasing online registrations by 30% and walk-in registrations by 8%.
Your final paragraph needs to wrap up what you said and drive the point home.
You should emphasise your interest in the role and in an interview.
A good way of doing this is by placing it alongside your thanks and a strong call to action.
What do I mean by a call to action?
- I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further.
- Please contact me via phone or email on…
You want to “instruct” the recruiter on what to do next. In this case arrange an interview, or contact you by phone or email.
A final paragraph example could be:
Increasing your company’s level of success is something I can facilitate and maintain the reputation of quality that Morgan Jones Recruitment is renowned for. With my previous expertise, I can start contributing to the business with tangible results affecting revenue.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further.
There are only two ways to end your cover letter.
Because it is a formal letter you need to end with ‘Yours sincerely’ (if you know the name of the hiring manager) or ‘Yours faithfully’ (if you don’t).
Underneath, remember to put your full name.
That was easy.
If you’re going to send it by post then leave room for your signature between the sign-off and your name.
If you’re good with computers you can always upload an image of your signature and input it instead.
This is a nice touch if you are sending your cover letter by email but not essential.
Once you’re done
Once you have finished writing, proofread!
This is the number one mistake we see on job applications by far.
People who haven’t proofed their work are easy to spot.
When you’re ready, save your CV and Cover Letter as a single document in a .doc (Word) or .pdf format.
There we are. Quick, Easy and Super Simple, cover letters aren’t difficult.
All they need is a bit of thought and a bit of editing!