A Cover Letter is your first impression
It allows you to introduce yourself to the employer; summarise your experience and why you are an excellent match for the position. It should be no longer than one page or a short email and it is an opportunity to promote yourself for the role!
Why include a cover letter?
A cover letter is all about providing "context". Employers are more likely to pay attention to the personal approach of a cover letter as it provides insight on the person, a summary of relevant experience and a powerful first impression.
This difference can help enormously when you are competing with others for a job, which is usually the case. A cover letter allows you to promote your skills, experience and demonstrate your knowledge of the organisation.
Benefits of a well-crafted cover letter
Personality. Organisations want to employ people who have a personality and can fit with their existing team. A letter provides an opportunity to talk about yourself and showcase your personality. It is very different to the list format of a CV.
Age-neutral. This may be the most significant advantage of cover letters for job seekers as they are entirely non-age specific. A well-written cover letter will be considered, regardless of age.
Emphasise relevant experience. Highlight the experience that will be relevant for the role. Use similar language to the keywords used in the advert where possible. Focus on what you have to offer, not what you don’t!
Demonstrate your knowledge. It's very easy to research a specific company and industry. You can then demonstrate your knowledge in the letter and this will show enthusiasm and interest.
Download our cover letter template to help land your next role here.
Top 10 tips for writing a cover letter
Customise for each role: Always submit different cover letters for different roles being applied for. A standard cover letter can be spotted very quickly and can discourage employers from considering you.
Keep it simple: One page is enough for a cover letter. Keep the font clear, use shorter paragraphs as opposed to long blocks of copy and include bullet points. 200-300 words is sufficient and ensure you reference the role that you are interested in.
Be yourself: Use natural and everyday language, and don't include jargon or cliched sayings. Your letter should be interesting and show your enthusiasm, while still sounding like you. Avoid unnatural language like, “Dear Sir or Madam”.
Address your cover letter to the correct person: If you are unsure, phone the company and ask for the person’s name. And spell it correctly!
Include your contact information: Always include your correct contact details, including email and phone number. An address is optional, but if you live outside of the location of the role, you should clarify that you are planning to commute or relocate – don’t leave the Employer guessing!
Don't overshare: The point of a cover letter is to provide additional insight about you as a person and what you can bring to the job. Highlight the experience that matches the role requirements mentioned in the advert. Focus on what you have to offer, not what you want!
Know when to stop: On a slightly related note, it's also easy to get carried away when it comes to talking about yourself; but remember that a cover letter shouldn't take the place of an interview. Don’t highlight the skills or experience that you don’t have!
Don't be pushy or desperate: Avoid starting sentences with "I" too often and instead talk about the situation and what you did specifically within a team or working with another organisation.
Don’t include a photo or date of birth: As a job seeker over the age of 45, it's advisable not to send a photo, as the intention is to use the cover letter and CV as a way to reach the next stage and get an interview. While age shouldn't be a barrier, it often is.
Include a call to action: It could be as simple as “thank you, I look forward to hearing from you”.
The final word on cover letters
Kate Ross, the founder of Wise Ones, recommends to always target your cover letter to the actual role, do not send a "generic" type letter. Tell the employer why and what transferable skills you have for the role. Keep it to the point, employers will find out the detail from your resume and call you if they need more. Please, please, please make sure names, titles are correct and the layout of the letter is professional. And always proofread, spell check & review your grammar! Cover letters are some of your best tools when it comes for looking for jobs. With a little attention to detail and the patience to craft the best possible letter you can write for the job, your application will go a long way with recruitment agencies and in-house recruiters.