Cover Letters: The accompaniment to your professional career can’t function without. Everyone needs a sidekick don’t they and if CVs are the main event cover letters can often be the finishing flourish that lets employers know you mean business, if that wasn’t already clear from your Curriculum Vitae. Here are a few tips on how to sharpen up those cover letters and make the icing on the cake that little bit extra sweet.
Keep it Compact
While there is no official word limit or minimum that is required a good solid 500 words can seem like a good compromise. A side of A4 is the option we all fall back on when we are unsure of ourselves. Won’t it seem like we don’t have enough to say if it’s only a few paragraphs long? Honestly, no, just be confident in what you are saying and once you’ve finished saying it, stop. The essential information is all anyone ever needs to make a decision and there is a confidence that comes with knowing when to stop.
Honestly, sometimes when selling yourself what you really need is someone to do it for you. If you have those referrals then don’t be afraid to use them in their entirety. A good reference can see you through especially if it’s with an employer that people trust. It’s all well and good you talking about yourself forever but having someone you know in a professional capacity backing up your words can make all the difference. Its enough to just put the words in and let them speak for themselves, don’t feel you have to add any embellishment or talk them up. Good referrals and kind words speak volumes.
Change the Structure
There can be a tendency when writing a cover letter to treat it like some kind of personal plea-essay-hybrid and some overly long paragraphs and silly frivolous sentences can clog what could be a very formulaic and informative document. Don’t be afraid of using bullet points or tables to showcase the information you want to get across. A lot like infographics, tables and bullets neaten things up and speed up proceedings for those doing the reading. It shows you’re confident that the figures speak for themselves.
Treat it like a CV
Good CVs and cover letters are often the two prerequisites of getting an interview however most people treat them as separate entities. They will be reviewed together and both represent what you want to convey about yourself. Now clearly you don’t want much of an overlap in information if you can help it but ensuring there are no discrepancies will help you. Make sure not only the information is each document matches up but also the smaller details like the font and paragraph spacing is similar.
While they are two sides of the same coin, the cover letter differs from the CV because it can be tailor-made to the employer in question, so using relevant information that you have properly researched is likely to impress them. (Not to forget here, outlining competencies on your CV from vacancy requests, is a useful tool.)
Don’t be afraid to make it a little more personal and even use snippets from the news to prove that you keep on top of current affairs. Making reference to things apart from the job isn’t a sin and can display an assured professionalism that most employers crave. If you can link to a sense of who you are: e.g. over-achiever in your personal life, charity ambassador or reasons why You fit the new company culture, then elaborate on those strong suits.