By Angela Ng
Some think that in the new transactional world, where shortlists are formed by keyword searches, that the cover letter is dead, but I have news for them. The cover letter remains a key tool for the candidate to differentiate themselves from the crowd, to personalise their application for the role, and to get the recruiter’s/hiring manager’s attention sufficiently to make them want to turn over and review the CV.
A good cover letter has the following:
1. PROOF THAT YOU’VE DONE YOUR HOMEWORK
Recruiters and hiring managers want to see that you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s important in the early sections of your cover letter that you refer to the job, its title and the company in some form.
Bonus points if you can impress your potential future boss with an acknowledgement of a major company success. Triple points if that success relates to the team you’d be joining.
2. AN EXPLANATION OF HOW YOUR SKILLS RELATE
Your cover letter is also the written explanation of your resume as it relates to the job at hand. So it’s important you explain in the letter what exactly it is you can do for this company and this role based on your previous experience.
You could use, what’s called a “T-Letter” to effectively present this section. This is a letter with a two-sentence intro followed by two columns—one on the left headed, “Your Requirements” and one on the right headed, “My Experience.” Bye-bye big, boring blocks of text.
Using the job description, pull out sentences that express what they are looking for and place those in the “Your Requirements” column. Then add a sentence for each to the “My Experience” column that explains how your skills match those.
It’s an aggressive, bold approach—but one that could set you apart from the rest.
3. YOUR EXCITEMENT ABOUT THE POSITION
Here’s an exercise: Think about yourself in the job you’re applying for. What do you feel? You’re probably pretty pumped, huh? Now harness some of that excitement and put it down on paper.
For example, if you were applying to a web design or UX job, you could write, “For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in how the digital world works and how users interact with websites. Website design is not only my career, it’s my passion, which is why I hope you’ll consider me for this great role on your team.”
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