Six steps to cover letters that get results

So you’ve started planning your career, found the jobs you want, and collected a list of the hard and soft skills you need to achieve your goals. Finally, it’s time to start actually applying for positions.

This is when you’ll really put that list of skills into action. While your resume is the place to explain what you’ve done and where, along with your hard skills, it is your cover letter that will link this experience with the job you are applying for.

Cover letter writing has been known to strike fear in the hearts of even the most experienced of job seekers. But when they are done well, cover letters can be the golden ticket of job applications, pushing you away from the reject pile and through an open door of opportunity. Here are our cover letter writing tips that will showcase your skills and get you through to the all-important interview.

First impressions last

To make a good first impression, you need to show that you have tailored your cover letter to the company, and job, you are applying for. It’s always recommended to do your research and discover who the hiring manager is. Addressing the letter “To Whom It May Concern” is generic and can be seen as lazy by employers. By taking the time to address your application to a real person, you can show that you are truly interested in the company and help your application stand out from the crowd.

Make it easy

Even though you need to address all aspects of the selection criteria for each position, keep in mind that you don’t have to write a whole new cover letter every time you apply for a job. The personal examples in your soft and hard skills list can be adjusted to fit the selection criteria of each job allowing you to demonstrate how your experience matches the company’s requirements.

Set the tone

Depending on the type of job you are applying for, ensure you alter the tone of your letter. Although it is important to come off as friendly and genuine, some applications will require varying degrees of formality. For example, the tone of a cover letter for a toy store will be vastly different for one within the corporate sector, such as a bank or office.

Show off your qualities

Writing a cover letter can feel like a sales pitch, but you do need to sell yourself to future employers. Let your personality shine through and tell them why you think you’re the best candidate for the job.

Don’t fall into the trap of summarizing your resume, you’ll only be repeating yourself.  Instead, clearly show how your work and life experience apply to the attributes and skills required for the position.  If you can show that you possess the qualities they need, you are more likely to get an interview.

It is also a good idea to keep some of your experience in reserve. You want something to talk about in the interview; make sure you have at least two real-life examples of each attribute so that you can use one in your cover letter and discuss one in a job interview.

A strong finish

The closing paragraph needs to be as strong as your opening, it’s your chance to be assertive and show that you are ready to move forward in the application process. Ensure that you thank the employer for their time and ask them to contact you for an interview at a mutually convenient time. If you’re feeling really confident, you could also tell them you will be in contact within two weeks to follow up. However, do not do this if you are not actually going to go through with it or it will just make you seem unreliable.

Proofread until perfect

Make sure you read over your cover letter and ensure it is completely free of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Try reading it out loud to yourself to ensure it makes sense. Two sets of eyes are better than one, so get another person to have a look over it for you. Don’t be afraid to keep editing and touching up your cover letter as time goes on, a good cover letter is always evolving.

Do you have any other cover letter writing techniques that I haven’t mentioned? Continue the conversation at the Career Spotlight with CCI Training Facebook group and share your tips for application letters.