Often it’s the thing that gets forgotten, but in some ways the cover letter is more important than your CV. The letter’s the first thing that gets read, so if it’s not up to scratch then the recruiter won’t even take it any further. So here are a few classic mistakes to avoid and tips to make sure that your application remains on top of the pile.
Mistake number #1: You don’t give it the time it deserves
If you can’t be bothered to write the letter then maybe it’s a sign that it’s not really the right job for you. The cover letter should be more than a 5-minute afterthought or a quick note that accompanies your CV. Spending an extra 20 minutes to write out a well-thought out letter addressed to the right person will put you ahead of the competition, as most other people don’t bother. Plus it shows that you aren’t just firing off your CV to every job that comes up.
Mistake number #2: It’s just a slim line version of your CV
Simply repeating what’s on your CV is a waste of time. Try to draw out one or two key points that really summarise who you are and what you’re about. Use the cover letter to outline briefly why your experience is relevant for the role and as another way to show how you are different from most other applicants and what makes you unique. Think of it as a teaser; something that pulls the reader in and makes them want to read on.
Mistake number #3 : Using the same letter for different applications
There’s no harm in using the same template but firing off generic clichés will do you no favours. A few lines in your cover letter about what attracted you to the specific role and the company shows that you have taken time to do your research and that you have a genuine interest. Remember first impressions count so there will be brownie points for showing you’ve done your homework.
Mistake number #4: The language style doesn’t align
Whilst CVs are more limited in their style and tone, your cover letter is the perfect opportunity to show that you’ve already grasped the culture of the organisation. That’s why it’s really important that your tone and language match with that of the organisation you’re applying to.
Recruiters will build up a picture of you in their mind based purely on the way you’ve written your letter, so they will want to ensure that you are going to “fit” with their culture. Take a look at their website and the language used in the job advert to give you an idea of the type of language and wording that’s appropriate.
If you avoid these mistakes, your cover letter should be a fantastic example of your work ethic, and will make sure your CV is top of the pile!
Written by Hayley Wintermantle.