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How to Write an Effective Cover Letter that Lands You Job Interviews

A cover letter is a vital part of your job application. It allows you to make a great first impression and highlight your qualifications for the role. So, the answer to whether a cover letter is necessary these days is YES!

Hiring managers tell us that an application missing a cover letter signals a lack of interest. Additionally, if you fail to provide a cover letter and it’s part of the recruitment process, your application is incomplete and may not be reviewed.

An effective cover letter can make a significant difference in getting your foot in the door. However, hiring managers and recruiters review many applications each day and will only take the time to read your cover letter properly if you grab their attention.

We have five essential tips to help you write a standout cover letter that will get you job interviews.

1. Address the Hiring Manager

Use a professional format that includes your contact information, date, recipient’s details, body, call to action, and sign-off. – “Dear Sir/Madam” is outdated and impersonal. Instead, address the hiring manager by name.

To find out the hiring manager’s name, review the job ads or position descriptions as it will typically indicate who the role reports to. Plug in the manager’s position title and the company name on LinkedIn and you should be able to come up with the name to address your letter to. This extra step is also a great way to establish rapport and learn more about your future manager. As a last resort, if you cannot find the manager’s name, you can use To Whom It May Concern.

2. Summarise Your Suitability Concisely

Your resume already captures your skills and experience, so don’t duplicate it in your cover letter. Instead, the cover letter is an opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the role and highlight your most relevant experience.

Use the job ad to identify essential role requirements and use them as keywords to include in your cover letter too. Provide specific examples to highlight your fit but remember to be clear and concise.

For example, I received a personal thank you email from the Head of Payments after the successful system integration project I delivered went live acknowledging my stakeholder management, leadership, and problem-solving skills.

3. Outline Your Motivation

One of the best ways to write a standout cover letter is to highlight why the opportunity interests you. Your resume doesn’t typically capture your motivations so this is where you can include it.

Most candidates focus only on promoting their skills and experience, so including your motivations sets you apart. If you are stuck on what to write, reflecting on what you want from your next role and reviewing the company’s website can help.  Referencing the company values in your cover letter ensures the letter is customised for each job you apply for. This is far more effective in securing an interview than sending out a high volume of generic cover letters.

4. Include a Clear Call to Action

Be clear about what action you would like the hiring manager, or recruiter can take. The call to action for a cover letter is generally a request to meet for an interview to discuss your application further. However, suppose you think the employer may consider your background and experience a bit of a “wildcard”. You may offer to complete a relevant case study or assessment to demonstrate your transferable skills. Alternatively, indicate that you would be happy to chat or provide references to address their concerns.

5. Check Your Formatting, Grammar, and Spelling Before You Hit Send

Minor mistakes can reflect carelessness or a lack of attention to detail. Before hitting send, reread your cover letter for any errors. Or even better, have someone proof-read it. If a hiring manager has hundreds of applications to review, they may need to be ruthless about who makes it to the next stage of the recruitment process.

Remember, if you are working with a recruitment agency, you might not need a cover letter. The agency will usually prepare a profile summary highlighting your suitability to the client on your behalf.

To prepare a cover letter, download our template and follow these tips so you can make a positive first impression, showcase your qualifications, and increase your chances of being invited for an interview. Good luck with your job search!

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Clicks is an award-winning IT recruitment specialist. As Australia’s favourite recruiters, we help candidates in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, and Sydney find great opportunities each day.

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