Job Tips: Four Ways To Improve Your Cover Letter

Recruiters read hundreds, if not thousands, of CVs and cover letters during their days, so why not do them a favour and send them a concise, original and well-written cover letter? And the best bit is it's really not hard to do. Here's how:

Keep it short

This is key. Presuming your CV already runs to two pages (as we've mentioned before, two pages should be your maximum), then a cover letter amounting to anything more than one side of A4 is just too much to expect a recruiter to trawl through.

Four or five paragraphs should be all you need to sell yourself - and anything more than that probably won't be read anyway.

Recruiters and employers want to be impressed within seconds, so don't be shy; confidently tell them why you're right for this job and why you deserve an interview.

Keep it consistent and error-free

Recruiters and employers are suckers for attention to detail, so stick to a font/style/tone and stick to it. Keep it professional by addressing the letter to a named person, but if you don't know their details, then check on the employer's website to see who's in charge of recruitment or who's the head of your particular department. If you still can't find a name to put on the top of your covering letter, then a quick phone call should do the trick.

Statistics are a great way to grab attention, so feel free to include them, and if you need to condense lots of information into a smaller space then consider using bullet points.

Also, making sure your letter's free of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors is, of course, crucial to any hopes you have of securing a job interview, so don't give the employer reason to doubt you.

Keep it structured

You haven't got much space to sell yourself, so it's important to use each paragraph wisely. Start off with a quick introduction - tell them how you heard about the job and that they can find your CV included.

Next up should be a few words about why you're interested in this particular role and how you think it fits in with your career plans. Take this opportunity to show you've done your research and that you know about the company and who they're looking for.

Now spend the next paragraph or two explaining why they'd be fools not to invite you in for an interview. What can you bring to the company? Why are you right for this role?

All of this should be written specifically for each individual job, so don't consider sending off that generic covering letter that didn't work on your last five applications.

Keep it positive

It's important to end on a positive note, so spend the last paragraph thanking them for their consideration, detailing when you'll be available for interview (if appropriate) and stating that you look forward to hearing from them.

Finally, ensure that your contact details are all included and up to date and then run through your covering letter to make sure it's error-free.

For more help with your job search, contact C&M Recruitment Consultancy - the largest and most successful specialist travel recruitment company in the UK, we also specialise within hospitality, leisure, the events sector and, most recently, HR.

Views: 482

Comment by Vinay Johar - RChilli on April 12, 2013 at 12:09pm

Cover letter is just like a Elevator pitch. 

Short  means which I can read in less than 20 seconds. 

and understand three major parts

a) Who you are

b) What problem you will solve with us 

c) What is overall exp. in solving this. 

This is the best pitch I seen in cover letter. 

thanks

Vinay 

Comment by Jeff Dahlberg on April 14, 2013 at 6:24am

I am a bit different in that I prefer not to read cover letters and feel they are for the most part a waste of time. I do not care (at that particular moment) how you heard about the job, what your desires are or even how you think you might feel about anything, what you look like or how you sound on the phone.

My number one concern is what have you been able to accomplish with the tools, situations, environments and opportunities you were already given and what will you accomplish if we provided you with another employment opportunity.  This means I want to read about provable facts right up front. If you claim to have improved production by 300% what can you provide me to back that up. If you say you were number three in your graduating class can you document it. If you were the VP of marketing out of how many other vice presidents and how many total employees? If you were employed with the same employer for 15 yrs. how was that better than the candidate that gained experience from multiple experiences.

Nothing bugs me more than vague statements that mean nothing. For example: I am highly motivated and organized. Give me proof. I logged more hours with clients than any other representative. I was voted most likely to be OCD in my last three organizations.

For the most part cover letters are full of vague information which sends the well qualified applicant to the trash circular file. I would highly recommend that applicants with a lengthy list of experiences and qualifications put the basic name, contact information  and who the resume is intended and skip right to the facts in bullet point format.

Here is an example:

Director of Engineering
ABC Engineering Company 1400 B.C to 1406 B.C.
Hicksville, KY 43891
Reported to: Arron Smith, VP of Operations
Ph 123-456-7589

  • Was voted top engineer by Mechanical Engineering Magazine.
  • Over 25 years direct engineering experience with ten of those in middle and upper management
  • Engineering focus had been primarily focused in aerospace  
  • Currently manage a team of 75 mechanical engineers
  • Responsible a $500 Million P&L statement
  • Reduced the company's insurance costs by $2 million by implementing improved safety standards
  • Implemented systems which allowed accounting to identify over $50,000 in waste per month
  • Designed and was awarded a patient #12345678-89569 which made it possible for the company to capture over tow billion dollars on new business over a one year period with expectations of ten billion over the next six years.
  • Managed the R&D of sensitive materials which improved the coefficient of friction of metal discs by 200%

Not everyone is going to have those same type of fact to put on their resume, but everyone has something factual that will make them stand out. A recently graduating student might tell about how they have worked as an intern in order to get more familiar with their filed of study, or how they took extra classes, or visited several similar businesses even though they weren't hiring just for the experience of being exposed to the industry. Good hiring managers know when they see good talent, but they have to have something to go on. If you don't tell your story no one will including the recruiter. Let them know why you deserve a change but do it right up front. The fact that you are a good person, hard worker, dedicated, etc is on only worth mention if it can be easily proven. The key word here is easily.   

Comment by Vinay Johar - RChilli on April 15, 2013 at 4:37am

Hello Jeff, 

Not sure about your experiences,   but where ever I had done mentoring for students on how to write resumes, I always tell them to use short cover note.  It should be note not a complete paragraph. 

And seen that students start getting calls and they are able to close this much faster than other way. 

But I do agree that not everyone has lot of data to present, but selling is a skill and person has to put things for learning. I will try to share my presentation here and seek your advice on that. 

Regards

Vinay

Comment by Jeff Dahlberg on April 15, 2013 at 12:53pm

I totally agree with that approach for students. Not long ago I was involved in a similar discussion with SHRM members. Several hundred unemployed human resource managers participated ,used the suggestion and many reported much improved responses from potential employers.

I realize this is not a scientific result from a highly controlled environment; however, the fact that these were mainly management level professionals who many years of talent management experience. What brought up the suggestion was looking at the way recruiters and HR mangers review applications and resumes.

Most in human resource will admit they only scan a resume, quickly looking for key clues as not to waste their limited time. The problem is that many HR generalists are not as focused on recruiting as a specialized recruiter. The generalist in many cases does not know the difference in skill levels, add to this the fact that they are scanning at a higher rate of speed.

In fact the student may more easily catch the interest of the generalist who is typically themselves younger, and less experienced and whose selection process involves more of an emotional attachment to the candidate.

So, my advice would be totally different for a student than an experienced candidate

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