Job applications are scanned in seconds by a human eye or a piece of software. In both cases the reader is looking to see if your skills and experience match the criteria detailed in a job advertisement.
Nowadays our job market is becoming more and more competitive. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who present themselves as suitable fit to their business. They want prospective employees who can think outside the box and add value.
Therefore every aspect of applying for a job counts; including writing a compelling cover letter, which appeals to the recruiter or hiring manager to review your profile. The objective of a cover letter is to entice the reader to examine your curriculum vitae / résumé and invite you to an interview. Sometimes cover letters are not needed or specifically not requested, however when they are necessary, this is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Your first step in writing a cover letter should be to go through the job advertisement and underline the key words used by the Hiring Manager /recruiter. As long as you can back up your claims, try to mirror these words in your cover letter, in other words – talk their language.
Just remember, a cover letter should not regurgitate your CV. It should be zone in on why you are a good match for the job role in just 3 or 4 short paragraphs.
Your second step is also vital: tailor your cover letter to each job you are applying for. Make a personalised letter using the relevant manager or recruitment consultant’s name. No one likes to receive a generic letter, make it personal. It may save you that embarrassing moment when you have forgotten to change the name from the last employer you applied to. Triple check these details – it’s important to show you take the process seriously.
Include the date, your name and contact details so your cover letter and resume so they can be matched together in case they get separated on the potential hiring employer desk. Also a prospective employer can call you and discuss your application easily over the phone.
Your third step is to use simple plain language (In our case English) with the same font and style as your resume. The experts recommend using a font that is easy to read such as 11 point Calibri as well as A4 white paper for hard copies of your cover letter.
Now let’s get into a little more detail with the content:
The first introductory paragraph should state the job you are going for and why you are interested in the role. For example, “I would like to express my interest in POSITION at COMPANY, as seen advertised on WEBSITE X”. “The role interests me because of the nature of the work involved and it helps generate safety in the world”.
The second paragraph should highlight your relevant skills and experience, and also your suitability for the role. “I believe my skills and experience are a good fit for the role as I have worked 5 years in a similar role and used the niche software you are looking for”
The third paragraph could be used to highlight one of your career achievement relevant to the job you are applying for. “In my last role I was awarded the employee of the year for my values adding skills to our customers by the CEO”
Finally, the closing paragraph should bring the letter to a polite close. For example, “Thank you for reading my application, I would welcome an opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss how I could contribute to your team”
I hope this has helped you get a better understanding of what hiring managers what to see in your cover letter.
Happy job hunting.