During your job search, you will look at and apply for many jobs. If you’re serious about landing the job, each one of those applications should have a cover letter. It’s an opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself to the employer. Writing a cover letter for different job applications is tedious and time consuming, but it’s certainly worth it. These letters show employers your interest in the job and that you are willing to go the extra-mile. Even though some applications don’t explicitly ask for a cover letter, you should always do so. To make it easy, we have produced this quick guide to cover letters.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a 250 word letter or email that comes attached with your resume. A potential employer or hiring manager will see this document first. This is chance to ‘sell’ yourself and convince them to read your resume. In a cover letter, you should:
- Keep your letter to one page
- Keep the job advertisement in mind – focus on the skills and experience that make you suitable for the job
- Address any employment gaps e.g. maternity leave or extended sick leave
- Check your spelling and grammar – Basic spelling and grammar errors will make you look sloppy.
There are five different types of cover letters that follow the same form: your name and contact details (phone, address, email), the hiring manager’s details. These cover letters alter when you consider the strategy you’re following during your job search. Like many, if you’re stuck in a cycle of apply, reject, repeat, it’s time to change your strategy. The type of cover letter used could make a positive difference to your job search.
Application Cover letters
The traditional and widely used type of cover letter. This is written to apply for a specific job.
Referral Cover Letters
Has someone in your network mentioned a job opening at their work? Why not mention them? (With permission of course). When writing a referral letter, mention that individual in early in the first paragraph. Address how you know the person and their familiarity with your qualifications. If that person recommended you, take the opportunity to talk about why they referred you.
Letter of Interest
Do you have a particular company or job in mind but aren’t hiring right now? Well, you can send a letter of interest to find out if they have any upcoming job openings. In this letter, you’re telling them why you’re interested in working for them and how your skills would add value. Be sure to ask for follow-up letter/email or interview!
“It’s who you know, rather than what you know” is a phrase used quite often when looking for a job. A fantastic way to network is by using a networking letter. When you write this type of letter be direct as to why you’re asking and your reason for reaching out. Establish a connection and grow your network!
Value proposition letters
In a value proposition letter, you’re telling an employer why they should hire you. A value proposition letter is 100- 150 words about what YOU WILL DO if hired. Cover letters focus on your past employment, value propositions focus your future employment and the value you will add. You should use a this letter if a job application doesn’t specifically ask for a cover letter.
Want a look at some samples of these different types of letters. You can find them here.
A cover letter should be engaging and drive an employer to your resume to read more. A nice touch would be to include the hiring manager’s details and title. If it’s not posted on the advertisement, do your research to find out.
You want to show you have the skills so, always target your letter to that specific role. Use elements of any of the aforementioned cover letter examples. The key is to keep rethinking and readjusting your strategy to find one that works.