Have you ever received a flyer in your letterbox and taken a quick look and tossed it aside? We all have! Ask yourself, how relevant was that flyer to you? Did it offer a solution to an immediate problem? Probably not!
What about the flyers you keep? The ones you put on your fridge? Chances are, they are the flyers that were 100% relevant and were tailored to meet your needs.
It is essential to tailor your cover letter for the same reason as it is for the company trying to get your business. You want the recruiter or hiring manager, to keep your cover letter and resume on their fridge! Well not literally, having your cover letter stored in their database is probably a better place for it!!!
Research has shown that a tailored cover letter can increase your chances of being shortlisted by 40%. So, how can you tailor your cover letter?
Ensure your contact details are correct
The Perfect Resume team reviews 10+ resumes every day, and it's surprising how many times the email on your resume, the one that we send feedback to bounces back, or the phone number is missing a digit. Your cover letter can easily have more mistakes are you are changing the content more often than your resume. Always, proofread the contact and check your contact details carefully.
Use a letterhead
If you received a letter from the council without a letterhead, would you take it seriously? No! A cover letter should be a professional document. Therefore, it needs a letterhead. Put your name at the very top of the page, followed by your essential contact details, such as your mobile number, email address, LinkedIn profile, suburb, state and postcode on separate lines. Go one step further, ensure the email address and LinkedIn profile link are hyperlinks to make it easy for the recruiter/hiring manager to contact you.
Clean up your email address
CupcakeHeaven@example.com and email@example.com are all unprofessional email addresses. The use of fun or jokey email addresses are fine for your personal lives; however, in the corporate world, they are not acceptable. You may have taken the time to put together a brilliant cover letter. Still, if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, then your chances of being shortlisted for an interview just declined substantially. The Perfect Resume team will always suggest opening a new email account to use for professional purposes (e.g. Gmail, Outlook, etc.) if we notice an inappropriate email address. When you do have separate emails, keep your personal and professional correspondence separate to you don't accidentally send the recruiter the email from email@example.com!
Make an impact with a grand opening paragraph
Your opening paragraph is vital in capturing the reader's attention. It could be the only paragraph they read!! The primary goal of your cover letter is, of course, to explain to the reader why it is that you are writing to them. Old fashioned cover letters started with, and I am interested in this job as advertised on this website. Over the last 12-months, this has evolved. Now, the cover letter jumps straight into why you are the best candidate for the role. Yes, you're applying for a job. They will figure that out pretty quickly. But why are YOU the best candidate for the position? What skills and attributes can you offer them? If you start building your case immediately, you risk losing the reader's interest from the outset.
Highlight the job you are applying for!
At the beginning of your letter, you should always clearly state the position you are applying for. Previously as a recruiter, I was recruiting for several positions simultaneously, from entry-level positions to senior management roles. If they came through Seek or job board, it was easy for me to identify the job advert, reference number and the position being applied for. However, when I received emailed applications, I had no idea! You want to make it as easy as possible for the recruiter/hiring manager to shortlist you for an interview, therefore, ensure they can see at a glance, the vacancy that you are applying for.
Make your case known immediately!
Don't be afraid to blow your own trumpet and show a little confidence. However, there is a fine line between overselling and underselling yourself. It would be a quick way to get rejected by being arrogant, "you'll regret not shortlisting me" (This was written on someone's cover letter!!! REJECTED!!! However, a cover letter filled with passive language will also not help your case. It is a competitive job market. Therefore, you will need to effectively compete if you have any chance of achieving your career goals. You can make a compelling reason to invite you for an interview without offending the reader by ensuring you put the right spin on your cover letter.
Always phrase yourself in terms of:
- What you can offer the organisation by backing up your statements with real-life examples rather than hypothetical, fluffy explanations.
- What you can do for the organisation by illustrating your points with specific, relevant examples from your own experience.
- Why it would be in their best interest to hire you, drawing on transferable skills that you have gathered along your career journey.
- How hiring you would add value to your organisation, leveraging your achievements.
If you have any questions relating to how you can tailor a cover letter, or would like us to write one for you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can help!