As of late, I have received a couple of cover letters that give off a negative impression of the applicant, rather than highlighting skills it was more a list of demands. A cover letter is used to entice the hiring manager/recruiter to view your resume. You want to leave the reader wanting more and feeling positive about opening your resume. Bottom line is; if you are going to use a cover letter make sure it’s a good one!
Where possible you should tailor your cover letter but realistically if you are actively looking for a job you won’t have the time to tailor each application. My advice would be to use a general template when applying to large organisations or recruitment agencies and tailor where possible when applying to an SME. The reasoning behind this is larger organisations and recruitment agencies hire frequently and go through an abundance of applications on a daily basis meaning they are more likely to scan read cover letters and resumes rather than delving into the detail whereas an SME will likely spend more time on the detail before picking up the phone and speaking to a candidate.
1. Keep it simple. Keep to bullet points and highlight important information. If you think of when you are reading a job advertisement you are probably more drawn to adverts with bullet points and white space rather than long paragraphs, you’re hiring manager will read your cover letter (and resume) in the same way. Use generic terms such as “I wish to apply for the role as advertised”. We often receive applications with a cover letter that are clearly intended for a different role and it creates a negative perception instantly and shows a lack of attention to detail.
2. Don’t exaggerate your skillset. You should be applying to roles that meet your skill set and if you are doing this the likelihood is most of the roles require the same key skills that you possess. Bullet point the main skillset you see recurring on adverts that you actually have in your wheelhouse.
3. Highlight your experience. Bullet point the projects you have worked on including the company you worked with and the industry it falls into.
4. Include your availability. If you are available to start immediately state that you are and also why you are. If you are coming to an end of a project say when you are available to start and if you are in a permanent role give your notice period.
5. Be Positive! Portray enthusiasm without being overly confident, “you believe you are a good fit for the role and you are excited to be considered for the role”.
If you would like to receive a cover letter template please request one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org