In a world defined by ’30 under 30’ type lists, everybody wants to do an outstanding job. However, most jobs worth their hype require a lot more effort than usual.
A cover letter is not mandatory, but it does help. Remember, you will not be the only one applying for that particular job. Many people will just send in their CV. However, as impressive as your accomplishments might be, there might be a candidate with similar strengths as you. A good cover letter will give you an extra edge.
What not to do
When put into a position of writing a cover letter, most applicants use a robotic style remnant of middle school teaching. This does not leave a good impression on managers as they do probably read hundreds of them on a daily basis. They will automatically think you do not want the job badly enough and will see you as just another run of the mill applicant.
What to do
Think about your audience
Just replacing your name on an online template will not be enough. You need to personalise your cover letter so that it captures the attention of the manager. Think about why they would pick up your letter from a big pile.
Don’t just transform your CV into prose
Most people put in a little more effort; however, they just describe what they’ve already put into their CV. While a CV is pretty standard – degrees, past jobs, known languages, etc, with a cover letter you have the opportunity to be more creative. Think about the requirements of this job. Correlate them with past projects you’ve worked on or skills that are unique to you and will bring an extra something to your future team.
Do not use clichés
There are certain words that are so overused in cover letters that they lose their meaning. While you will be tempted to say you are a ‘perfectionist, hard worker’ or anything along those lines… don’t. Everyone will be writing just that. The manager will instantly know if what you say is true or not just by reading your cover letter. You are definitely not a perfectionist if your letter is full of grammatical errors and that you are not a hard worker if you just write in a robotic way using a standard Google search template.
Focus on the job requirements
Read and reread the advertisement based on which you are applying for this particular job. See and understand what will be expected of you. While this is obvious, most people skip it. In a cover letter, you are basically selling yourself. What makes you special? Are you a good fit for the company? Why? Take every single requirement in the ad and write about a certain skill you have that would apply here. For example, if they need someone proficient in a particular computer program, do not just write that down. Describe any actual experience you have in this area, maybe something related to your previous job.
In the end, remember… the most important thing is, to be honest.