The job of the resume is to get you an interview, but what if your resume doesn’t even get read? One way of increasing your chances is attaching a great cover letter, as the job of the cover letter is to entice the reader to learn more about you and read that resume.

A well written cover letter will help your resume or CV stand out from the crowd. A hiring manager, recruiter or HR person will be snowed under with applications such as yours and therefore you had better make yours be special.

The key question/problem the cover letter should answer/solve is “Why select you?” This means you have to clearly state what you do better than others, what makes you unique and how the reader would be making a mistake by not considering you for the position. Here are a few guidelines on putting together a killer cover letter today:

Details:

Make sure you put the typical details at the top of the page, get all the details right and check them a few times before sending off:

  • Your Address
  • Date
  • Mr. /Ms. (Name of Employer)
  • Title
  • Company Name
  • Their Address
  • Dear Mr./Ms. (Their Name Again)

First paragraph:

We begin with stating our business, basically telling the reader what job you are applying for and why. Let’s keep this short and to about three sentences, cover these points:

  • Reason for writing and which role you are applying for.
  • Drop any names of people you know in the organization here, e.g. “John Smith in your department encouraged me to send an application as he thinks I have the required skills to succeed.”
  • Give any compelling reasons you have applied for the position or company. Keep it short and sweet, with the view to inspire the reader.

Second paragraph:

Here’s your chance to tell the employer why you are the man/woman for the job. Bring out some of your most relevant skills and experiences and mention how they will be applied in the new position. Pick out three examples of major achievements and provide the story to back these up:

  • Start out with a short introduction focused on your achievements and how your skills and experience will be a good match for the new job.
  • Use the rest of the paragraph to support and back up your introduction. This is where you exhibit your evidence in terms of specific positions/roles/responsibilities and so on.
  • Keep this paragraph punchy and designed to impress, not to bore anyone. Don’t write too much about one accomplishment that you are the most proud of as you don’t know what the reader will think.
  • Wrap things up with the final sentence, repeat the job title and company to further position yourself as the right person for the job in the mind of the reader.

Last paragraph:

  • A short paragraph that simply mentions your attached resume, tells the employer you are looking forward to an interview and let them know you will be in contact by a specific date.
  • Don’t forget to thank the person reading your cover letter for their time and consideration.

Sign-off

Sincerely,
Your Signature (scan this)
Your Name
Attachment(s)

Word of warning

A classic mistake is to use the same cover letter for all applications. This is counter-productive and the employer can spot it a mile away. The one size-fits-all cover letter will result in your resume being deleted before even opened.

The original Undercover Recruiter, after 7 years in tech recruiting Jorgen now runs Link Humans, a social media agency in London.