Writing a Good Cover Letter
So, finally found a job vacancy you feel perfect for. The job description is ideal and fits exactly all your strengths. This is the job for you, hands down, but they want the horrible, the dreaded cover letter...
Cover Letters have always been an aspect of the Job Search Process, but it seems to have become one of the most important ingredients to getting a job. Many hiring managers won't consider you for the vacancy without a detailed cover letter explaining why you are the best for the job.
Let's be honest writing a cover letter is hard. And it can be dreadful. The same questions go through your head: 'What should I write?' or 'How should I put this?'. This is where the issues start.
It is best to keep it simple, exact and don't overthink it. You are not writing a novel to be published.
While the above-mentioned statement is easier said than done, it is still applicable and in my experience, wholly true. Another method that leads to issues is good old let's google it and the result of that search is an endless stream of guides on cover letters. The majority of them are not even helpful at all!
Now, my opinions are just that, my opinions, but I have taken the liberty of scouring google to find the most popular articles on Cover Letters and How to Write Them. In the end, they are all quite similar, in structure and below are my opinions based on my own experience.
While I do agree that in everything we write, there should be an opening paragraph and a closing one. You MUST introduce why you are writing the letter and wrap it together nicely at the end.
Where I might differ from many of the articles I found is what to write in the body. There is no perfect strategy or outline to write the best Cover Letter. What I would recommend is not repeating anything that they can find in your CV. That is completely redundant to describe your previous duties when it is listed on your CV, instead, look at the job description and address how you are the best person for the job based on what they want. Explain to them how your skills match what they want in that vacancy.
Your Cover Letter should explain things that you cannot traditionally put in a CV. It is best to use the job description they provide and write off how you are suitable and why you want to join them.
While no format suits all, a simple document with your name and some contract information should be your header and address the person who the letter is for. If you don't know their name, simple write "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear Recruiter".
Let it be neat and clean. Use the same font and size throughout the document. For the footer, always end off with your name and a simple 'thank you'.
Tailored To The Job/Company:
This one I agree with 100%! Using a template as one size fits all might not be in your favour. But I also don't agree that everything should be customed from A to B in each Cover Letter.
The trick is to have parts that you can apply to every Cover Letter and have parts that needs to be tailored per the company. Personally, this is what worked best for me.
Unique Selling Points:
Yes, you are selling yourself when applying for a job. You are also participating in a competition against other candidates to get the job. The best suitable is hopefully the one who succeeds, but it is about how you have sold yourself, your experience and skills.
Your Cover Letter should tell them something about yourself. Something that your CV does not cover completely while also touching on things in the job description.
I would also recommend you try and sell your personality in the Cover Letter. Culture Fit is becoming a more crucial aspect being considered when hiring.
Is there such a thing as the perfect introduction? Probably, but it would differ to each individual reading your Cover Letter and that is extremely hard to cater towards. We found many articles that actually try to show you the perfect way to phrase things, but is that appropriate?
That is something for you the decide. Personally, I would recommend being relatable, true to yourself and explain yourself as you would naturally. This is definitely not the popular opinion in Cover Letters.
Can you have the perfect Cover Letter? Yes, you can. But it needs to add something to your CV, not a copy. It should be about yourself and the job description while showcasing not only your attitude, skills and experience, but your personality.
Now, getting hiring managers who request cover letters to read them? That is another topic and issue entirely.
For a great article on Cover Letters (that is at least honest) check out The Truth Of Cover Letters By Forbes.