Are you looking for a new job and confused about what to put in a cover letter? Would you like to perfect your writing skills to ensure the hiring manager actually reads your information? If so, you are in the right place!
A cover letter is a document that accompanies your resume when you are applying for jobs. It should be distributed with the resume and it should be written in the same style as a formal business letter. A cover letter can make or break an applicant's chances of getting an interview, so it is important to take the time to write one properly. In this blog post, we will discuss how to prepare a perfect cover letter that will increase your chances of landing interviews and scoring a job!
How to write a cover letter
The purpose of our cover letter is to introduce yourself, to provide an overview of who you are and to indicate the skills, knowledge, experience and personal qualities that make you special. Try to create a good initial impression and make the most of the opportunity to inject a positive and upbeat tone into your application. Your letter should be restricted to 1-page and for maximum impact, it should:
- Grab the readers' attention
- Be succinct, relevant and interesting
- Show originality in the way you present your key attributes
- Reflect your motivations and interests in the position
- Demonstrate an understanding of how your background links with the company and with the requirements of the position
- Create a desire for the reader to meet with you.
What do I write in a cover letter?
You should highlight your relevant skills, knowledge or experience. You can also talk about any personal qualities you have that might be useful to the company. We asked a handful of recruiters what they like to see in a cover letter and this is what they said!
- "Don't get too creative." You can still stand out while traditional observing cover letter-writing conventions. The standard inclusions still exist, such as adding your name, contact details, addressing it to the reader where possible, adding the date and the position. Tailoring your cover letter with the inclusions above can really save a recruiter a lot of time.
- "Include everything we ask for." If you're going to spend time applying for a job, remember to touch on everything the recruiter/hiring manager needs from you. For example, give brief examples of skills and experiences that demonstrate how you fit the job.
- "Don't send a generic cover letter." Recruiters know when you have recycled the same letter time and time again. It gets filled with generic information that really wastes the reader's time. Instead, highlight what you have to offer, use verbs to express what you have actually done and grab their attention with examples of your achievements.
- "Avoid being.... too much." If you look desperate, you will be seen as over the top, OTT or just a little bit of a nutter. We definitely want to avoid this as much as we can by focusing on what you have done and how this transfers to what you will be doing in the new role.
What should be included in a cover letter?
The structure of a cover letter should be broken down into three sections.
- Main statement
The introduction should be a brief first paragraph that clearly identifies the job you are applying for and a statement about your personal qualities that makes your application worth reading. This paragraph confirms to the reader that you have indeed read the position advertisement and have an idea of what the position entails. You really don't need to include where you saw the job advertisement as this is no longer relevant in today's digital world. When you apply for a job, the recruiter will be notified of which platform the application has come from. Whether it be Seek, LinkedIn or any other job board.
The main statement can comprise of one to three paragraphs or a paragraph and a series of bullet points. The structure of this section will depend on how much information the hiring manager has requested. In this section, you will want to:
- Highlight the relevance of your qualifications, interests, knowledge, skills and abilities to the particular position.
- Ensure you give some examples that demonstrate how you meet the criteria or how you would be of value to the employer.
- Use any information you have gathered, including languages and terminology to connect you with the position and the organisation.
The conclusion section will wrap up the letter and set you in good stead for an interview. In this section, it is commonplace to:
- Reaffirm your interest in a position
- Engage them to read your included resume for further information
- Indicate a willingness to provide further information if required
- State the best way to contact you to set up an interview
How do you write an effective cover letter?
The Perfect Resume team has written thousands of cover letters for all roles, across all industries. We also have a 96% success rate of getting a candidate to an interview. Therefore, it's pretty safe to say, we have a winning formula when it comes to writing an effective cover letter.
Some people make the mistake of injecting too much personality into a cover letter, or not enough. Some try to make it sound like a sales letter or worse, a love letter. These extremes are a sure way to have your cover letter put in the bin! Instead, we carefully balance a passion for wanting the position with a touch of experience and skill. We adopt all the principles above to write an effective cover letter. Please find an example from one of our successful candidates below:
Attn: Hiring Manager - The Perfect Resume
Re: Position of Finance Manager,
An experienced and highly qualified Finance Manager, I look forward to adding value to your bottom line and have attached my résumé for your consideration.
I was previously employed as a Financial Accountant for COMPANY, where I managed 5 direct reports and 140 indirect payroll and accounts staff, based around the world, including overseeing the financial management of 3 company-owned venues and 2 joint ventures.
In this role, I successfully implemented project financing, budget forecasting and financial analysis initiatives. I ensured accurate allocation of cost for analysis which decreased expenses by approx $50k per month. My deep-dive analysis and efforts further led to a reduction of $150k per annum and guaranteed that all accounts receivable, accounts payable, daily reconciliations were performed to a very high standard.
Judicious by nature and an adept analytical problem-solver, I have proven experience in project process improvements. Leveraging available resources, I develop and lead a commercially focused and energised team and communicate with excellent verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills to sustain long-term quality productive working relationships.
Recognised as an enthusiastic, diligent and high performing professional, I am looking for a long-term contract within your dynamic finance team. I believe my financial, budgeting, forecasting experience, CPA and post qualifications, place me in a unique position to offer your company the expertise you are looking for, in addition to an innovative nature and meticulous attention for details to work collaboratively with the team.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my previous role, I am now seeking a new position closer to family. Therefore, please find further experience reflected in my enclosed resume to pique your interest to shortlist me for an interview. I can be contacted at email@example.com or 1300 217 374 at a time of your convenience.
If you would like assistance to write your cover letter, please email a link to the position you want to apply for to firstname.lastname@example.org.