how to turn a good cover letter into a great one.

23/07/2019 13:55:02

Writing a cover letter is a challenge. That’s why the internet is full of articles (including a couple from Randstad here) offering helpful suggestions about layout and content. It’s useful to have these tips to get started, especially when you’re going cross-eyed with every cover letter you write. 

So, how can you make sure you’re sending through a great cover letter?

grab their attention from the start.

First impressions really do count when you are yet to meet the interviewer who’s carefully assessing your resume. Often the deluge of job applications sitting on a recruiter's desk means that standing out is key, so set the tone straight away. 

For example: As a professional with XX years of experience in sales and a background in communications, I’d be a strong asset to ABC Sales Company as a Sales Floor Manager.

Make sure to cover why you want this role, what gets you excited and what you can offer to the company. Although this cover letter is about you, you must also address what’s in it for them if you were to join. Striking a professional tone and showing how much you care about your target organisation will help you along to a shorter and more satisfying job search.

avoid repeating your resume.

The cover letter is your chance to let your personality show - so take the opportunity. Go beyond your resume and expand on the points you’ve made as to who you are, your achievements, future ambitions and goals. It’ll also be a chance to mention key data insights or results from the work you’ve done that contributed to your success. 

Instead of plainly listing job duties, strengthen your cover letter by only focusing on relevant experiences from your past roles.

For example: “In the past, I’ve worked as a sales associate, a sales team leader and a sales manager. From these experiences, I have learned to listen carefully to customers’ needs, offer additional services to each customer and communicate effectively with a team of sales associates and managers.”

Ask yourself some challenging questions to help you dive deeper into your real work ethic and develop points about your soft skills, such as time management, propensity to innovate and careful risk taking. Consider questions like: 

  • When was there a moment you showed initiative?
  • When have you pushed against the grain to innovate?
  • How have you implemented new technologies to stream-line best practices?

Highlight how the company values align with your own by researching the company’s principles and pick out those you most identify with. It’ll also be great practice for interview questions once you get to that stage. 

know your interviewer.

Your prospective hiring manager wants to know why you’d be an asset to the company. Good cover letters address the employer, but many people focus too much on the applicant’s own reasons for applying. 

To write a great cover letter, shift some focus towards the employer and frame your professional experience with what the company needs. Here is one example of how to keep the audience in mind.

For example: “My professional philosophy focuses on helping clients, being an expert listener and finding solutions for teams and for customers. My personable, solutions-focused approach makes me a great team player and would make me a strong asset for ABC Sales Company.”

Also try to identify the company’s main pain points that they’re looking for the next team member to solve. Asking these questions will help you to emphasise the right skills and experiences you have and spotlights you as the right person to solve them. 

end memorably. 

Don’t let your hard work go to waste by signing off with a generic note. Whilst cover letters are still a professional document, that doesn’t mean you have to keep to convention at the expense of originality. The sign off in particular is your final impression, so leave them with a strong call to action and your excitement. 

Instead of:

“Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

An alternative closing could look like this:

“I would be delighted to discuss my qualifications to help ABC Sales Company grow and best serve its customers. Please don’t hesitate to reach me at emailaddress@jobhunt.com or 555-555-5555. I look forward to hearing from you soon!”

It’s important to remember that hiring managers are looking for the best fit for the role and whilst work experience is integral to this decision, so is your culture fit. 

Once you’ve got your cover letter and resume looking sharp, check out Randstad's job boards today and apply for jobs across New Zealand.