A tailored cover letter is your chance to stand out in a sea of applications

A tailored cover letter is your chance to stand out in a sea of applications

It may be considered old school, but a great covering letter is still the element of a job application that is most likely to make us want to pick up the phone and find out more about you! Whether you’re applying directly to an employer, or to a recruitment consultant, it’s what can make you stand out in a sea of applications.

Every morning when I arrive at work, my first job of the day, apart from making a cup of tea, is to check who has applied to my job adverts. I’ve noticed lately that many candidates are not writing covering letters anymore. But in my experience, a tailored cover letter goes a long way. Your CV may be strong, but we are likely to have received lots of other ones which are very similar. Of course, we can now look at social profiles such as LinkedIn to find out more about you, but this doesn’t replace a carefully considered, tailored cover letter which explains why you believe you are the perfect candidate for this particular role.

Here are my top five tips on writing a cover letter:

  1. Find out more information if needed

In some cases, job adverts can be very non-descriptive. If the advert hasn’t provided you with much detail, then pick up the phone and call the recruiter. Tell them why you are keen to be considered and find out more information about the role. You can then use this to create a great cover letter which explains more about how you match the requirements.

  1. Tailor it to the role

A great cover letter shouldn’t be generic for use with every application. It should be tailored to say why you think you are the best candidate for this specific job, highlighting your transferable skills and background. It doesn’t have to be an essay. A few bullet points will really help the recruiter to decide whether to give you a call or not.

  1. Answer any obvious questions in advance

If you think a recruiter may look at your CV and wonder why you are applying for the role, you can use your covering letter to explain this. For example, if you are relocating to the local area, explain why you are moving and where you are moving to. Otherwise, your CV may get overlooked as recruiters will think you live out of the area and question why you have applied for a role 200-miles away from where you live.  

  1. Highlight suitability as well as experience

As well as detailing your relevant skills and experience, use the letter to highlight why the position is particularly suited to you. Check if the role is permanent, part-time or full-time, and does this match your expectations? Is the salary at the right level? Can you start straight away? Give the recruiter as much information as you can to help them decide to call you.

  1. Ask someone to check it first

Get a friend or family member to proof read your cover letter, as well as your CV, to check for any mistakes or typos etc. Having spent the time and effort to create a tailored letter, it’s always worth getting a fresh pair of eyes to double check it first.

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Written by

Caroline Batchelor

A graduate of Manchester University, Caroline started her recruitment career in 1999. She’s been with Pure since we began in 2002. As a Director, Caroline’s responsible for mid-to-senior level HR recruitment across Cambridgeshire. She’s also a qualified coach and co-facilitator of our Women’s Leadership Programme.

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