5 steps to writing the ideal cover letter
I see lots of resumes every day and most people realise it needs to be tailored to suit the role which is a big job! Something that is often forgotten until the last minute is the cover letter but it’s the first thing that the prospective employer sees!
By not having a tailored cover letter your application can be dismissed pretty quickly and fall into the pile in amongst all the other applications. So how do you write the ideal cover letter? There are 5 key steps that I recommend most (unless the job ad says otherwise) clients follow:
- Tailored specifically for the job- do not attach a blanket cover letter that you have used for other jobs. Is must be specific to the job at hand. The employer is looking for keywords that fit the criteria of the person they’re looking for and if they can’t find them they will move on to the next application. Don’t forget someone may shortlist you who has no idea how to do the job so make it easy for them and link it to the job description and job ad.
- Keep it to one page: Unless it says otherwise make sure your cover letter addresses the specific criteria of the ideal applicant that is mentioned in the job ad. You might be passionate about sales and marketing, but if the role is for a sales and marketing manager you’ll need to mention your management skills.
- Use emotive language- It’s possible the reader will be going through a lot of resumes for the role, sometimes hundreds or thousands. Your language needs to jump off the page and hit the reader in the face saying “wake up and look at me!” I meet everything you’re looking for!
- Use formatting that works- Make sure that your details are identifiable, use bolding on key words, colour if possible and ticks instead of bullet points. This attention to detail will make it easier for the reader to navigate your cover page and put your application on the “yes” pile!
- Spell check- make sure you run your final copy through spell check or even better have someone proof read it for you to make sure they understand it. If they can’t understand it then it’s highly like the reader won’t.
So, if you do all these things you’re off to a great head start and will make the reader’s job soooo much easier to shortlist you! Remember the purpose of the cover letter and resume and to get you to an interview, not to get you the job so make sure there is just the right amount of information to get to interview and then sell yourself in person. One step at a time!
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Jane Anderson is a Certified Career and Executive Coach based in Brisbane Australia. She has been featured as the “job Whisperer” on Today Tonight, in CLEO magazine and Brisbane Business News. She is the Director of Inside Out Training and Coaching who specialise in Career Coaching for Individuals and Employee Engagement and High Performance using the Science of Happiness at Work Program. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (07) 3841 7772