Success in the job application process starts with the CV – but that’s not where it ends. You may have crafted the most impressive and well worded CV but without an engaging cover letter it may never even be seen. The cover letter is an often-underestimated document that is frequently left to the last minute. In fact, it has an important part to play in ensuring that your application stands out.
Keep it concise
Your cover letter is the written equivalent of an introduction or an elevator pitch. It serves to introduce the CV and to give the reader a reason to move on to that crucial document but it doesn’t have to do any more than that. Long cover letters are rarely read through right until the end and may even put a potential employer off reading the CV because they’re just too wordy.
Every word in a cover letter needs to be considered and checked. This is not the place for spelling mistakes, using the wrong contact name or getting your apostrophes mixed up. So, make sure your cover letter is addressed to the right person, that your name is spelled properly and that you’ve double (and triple) checked for errors in sentence structure or spelling.
Avoid a generic cover letter
If you’re using the same cover letter for every application then the effectiveness is so low that you almost may as well not have a cover letter at all. Your cover letter is the perfect place to introduce your CV in the context of the job ad that you’re responding to. You might want to reference the ad or to briefly summarise in a sentence or two why the following CV/skills and experience show a perfect fit for that job description. If you just use a generic cover letter every time then you’re missing out on the opportunity to make that connection.
This is one of the key tips for job applications and applies to every aspect of the cover letter, from the content to the aesthetics. Pick a clear, plain font, avoid colour images or too many links and keep the language simple and direct. There is no need to include your photo in a cover letter (or CV) for most jobs.
Steer clear of oversharing
You don’t need to go into too much detail where the cover letter is concerned. Some of the common mistakes that are made when it comes to cover letters is including information like your salary expectations or why you are leaving your current job. None of this is necessary at this stage and including it could be problematic in terms of getting to interview.
Keep the structure light
Short sentences, small paragraphs and bullet points work well when it comes to cover letters. Avoid long, rambling sentences that might lose the reader half way through, as well as dense-looking blocks of text.
There are many subtle details involved in the process of finding – and securing – the perfect role. To discuss what you’d like your future position to look like contact a member of the 2i Recruit team today on 01483 414719.