The 5 Elements Of A Highly Effective Cover Letter

What makes a cover letter effective? What makes employers want to learn more about a candidate? Why should any recruiter give your resume more time than the next candidate? Why should an employer select you for an interview? What sets you apart from your competitors and how do you show all that in a cover letter? The secret is simplicity. It is your job to make the employers life easier. Your cover letter needs to provide all the right information in an accessible manner so that the person reading it can decide almost instantly whether you are worth pursuing or not. This means making your unique selling points jump off the page. Effective cover letters get straight to the point.

Your cover letter should include relevant results orientated information in a concise easy to follow manner. It should read almost like a sales letter that calls to action your potential employers. You should look at your cover letter like a marketing opportunity and enlist some proven marketing strategies to help you land the job of your dreams. Know your audience and target your letter appropriately. How you present your information is as important as what you actually have to say.

5 elements

  1. Keep it simple – clear, concise and to the point. You should stick to short sentences and avoid content that is ambiguous and disjointed. Your points should follow a clear structure and be reader friendly. Anything more than 1 page for a cover letter is pointless. Everything you have to say you should be able to say it in 1 page. Use bullet points to break up the content and give it a more appealing appearance.
  2. Personalize – address the recruiter directly e.g. Dear Mr/Mrs Smith. It is worth the time it takes to call and find out who your application will be read by. Include company specific information and avoid emailing cover letters unless asked to. The more company and positional knowledge you show the more attention you will draw to your application. Always address your letter personally rather than using a common salutation like “To whom it may concern” as this kind of greeting will not concern anyone.
  3. Attention – capture the recruiters’ attention in the first paragraph; make them want to learn more about you. Show them what you have to offer. Use the first few lines to demonstrate how hiring you will be beneficial to the company. Highlight how your skills are a match for the position. Promote yourself and be confident.
  4. Benefits – link your skills and experience to tangible benefits you can provide for the company. What can you do for them? How do you plan on doing it? What will they get out of hiring you? This is essential if you want to get an interview. Employers want proof that you can do what you say you can. Provide that proof with results you have achieved in other roles.
  5. Call to action – finish with a specific action you would like them to take, e.g. “I would like the opportunity to discuss this matter further with you” or “I would like to set up an interview with you next week to talk more about this opportunity. Be specific with what you want to happen next even if it is just you committing to a follow up call.

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