10 Tips to Improve Your Cover Letter

Posted on :

16 Feb, 2012

Category :

Jobs in South Africa Blog

The average employer spends fifteen seconds looking at a cover letter. This means that you have less than a minute to blow him away. Yikes. Don’t despair. This isn’t easy, but it can be done. Here are ten tips to help you grab your future employer’s attention in a short amount of time.

  • 1. Know your stuff. Check out the company website and research what they do and have done. Especially try to find a mission statement and tailor your cover letter so that you can present yourself as a missing component to helping achieve these over-arching goals.
  • 2. Explain why you’ve chosen them. Let the company know why you want to work for them and have taken the time to apply for a position. Tell them why this job means something to you – it’s always good to feel wanted.
  • 3. Address it to somebody. Don’t just write “To whom it may concern;” find out who will be reading your application and address them by name. If you don’t know, call the company and talk to the secretary.
  • 4. Personalize it. Don’t write a stilted, dry cover letter. This is your chance to shine as an individual, so write like one. Use your voice, but be careful – let your personality be to your advantage and not to your detriment.
  • 5. There is no “I” in “employment.” Emphasize their needs more than yours; tell the company what you will do for them. Still take the time to mention your career goals (ambition is good), but don’t make it the focus of your letter.
  • 6. Supplement your resume. And don’t just repeat it. Expand on your resume to highlight how your past experiences and acquired skills will make you a valuable asset to the company. And along those lines…
  • 7. Show, don’t just tell. Rather than just state skills you have, tell a brief anecdote about how you’ve showed expert use of those skills. So you’re reliable and organized; demonstrate that you are through something you have done while making sure to be brief.
  • 8. Know industry lingo. Add keywords that highlight your skills and relate to your industry. Many companies use software to scan the resumes and cover letters, looking for certain words. In these cases, nouns truly are more important than action words.
  • 9. Don’t use a form cover letter for every application. Write a new one for each individual position you apply for. You can have a basic template or form to work from, but add a personal touch each time. Show you put in some work and that this job means something to you – that can be more important than anything else.
  • 10. Make it short and sweet. One page should be more than enough to get your point across. Be succinct, concise, and down to business, which will demonstrate traits any business will want from their employees.

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