Three Golden Rules to Ensure Your Cover Letter Stands Out
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Applying to jobs can be tough. This author knows it as well as anyone.
You’ll send off a tailor-made, fantastic application and you sit back and wait for a response.
Then you’ll wait some more.
Then you’ll wait even more.
How have they not called you into an interview already?
You’ve got all the skills they could want, you tick all their person specification boxes, and you’ve been to space.
That’s right, space. What more could they possibly want?
Well, you might just have fallen at the first hurdle. No, you got your name correct at the top of your CV, but your cover letter rambled, had too much irrelevant information and was ignorable. Here at Courses Online, we want you to land your dream job. So, to help you with the toughest part of the application, we want to give you our three golden rules on making your cover letter not only stand out from the crowd but wow the recruiter.
of recruiters spend more than one minute reading a cover letter
Rule Number One: Don’t Re-cycle
You might have sent off an excellent cover letter for a similar job a few years ago. It might have landed you the interview and maybe even the job, but you should never re-use an old cover letter. There are two reasons for this rather strict rule.
You might have left a mistake.
It’s likely that you named the previous company, or some things don’t apply. If this new company’s recruiter sees either of these mistakes and realises this is a re-cycled cover letter, at best they’ll think you’re a little confused. At worst, they’ll see you as a lazy candidate who just can’t be bothered.
Your cover letter needs to be precise and geared up to this specific job.
Your cover letter should act as an explanation of why you’re suited to the role. It can be less bullet-pointy, and more fleshed out. Writing a new cover letter (perhaps after reading your previous one), will ensure that every piece of information is tailor-made to that relevant role.
Rule Number Two: Spin a Yarn. A Story Yarn.
A recruiter for an entry-level position will receive an average of between 110 and 160 applications per job. If the average person attaches a cover letter of 300 words, that’s around 42,000 words that the recruiter will have in front of them. In an age where Twitter, one of the most popular social media platforms limits its users to 280 characters, the recruiter is highly unlikely to be able to get through all the cover letters. To make yours burst out at them, captivate their interest early on.
Here are two examples of an opening line:
“I’ve dragged my family around Framlington Castle so many times on private tours, that I want to offer that opportunity to the public. This reason, as well as my passion for Norman history, is why I believe myself to be a strong, suitable candidate for the position of tour guide.”
“If loving archaeology is wrong, I don’t want to be right. There are few things I value more than good field practice. I also value your time as the recruiter for this position, so I’d like to use this space to highlight why I believe myself to be a highly-able field archaeologist.”
Both vary in its style, and how far they push the envelope. It’s important to gauge how well the cover letter will resonate, depending on the job role. Furthermore, a sparky opening is sometimes inappropriate. Use your discretion.
of recruiters believe cover letters to be valuable
Rule Number Three: Keep it Short
They say that you should keep the length of your CV limited to two sides of A4 at most. A cover letter should be no more than one. You aren’t writing a novel; instead, you’re merely catching the recruiter’s eye and explaining why you deserve an interview. Ensure that what you’re saying is concise, relevant and fits in with the narrative.
Don’t do this:
“I believe that I’d be a suitable candidate because of my organisation skills. The best example of when I’ve had to use these skills within a working environment would be my job as a charity fundraising organiser. I made sure that everyone was where they needed to be at a specific time. I think I could definitely transfer these skills across to this position.”
“Within the role of charity fundraising organiser, strong organisation skills were vital. It’s a skill that is not only necessary but something that I want to build upon further, in the role of _____ , something that I can be truly passionate about.”
At CoursesOnline, we recognise the need for a strong cover letter. Follow our three golden rules to ensure your cover letter avoids the bin and lands you that excellent interview.
To help pack your cover letter with new qualifications and experience, why not browse our extensive list of courses: