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How To Write An Effective Cover Letter: 5 Tips That Gets You More Interviews

Reading Time: 8 minutes

In a world where first impressions are everything, a cover letter acts as your golden ticket to making a lasting impact. It’s the first introduction to your professional self, allowing you to show your personality and enthusiasm, far beyond the black and white of a CV.

In this blog post, I will take you on a journey through the art of writing a compelling cover letter. I will dissect each section, providing you with proven templates, practical tips, and success stories to inspire your writing process.

Think a cover letter doesn’t make a difference? Think again.

A survey from ResumeLab found that 83% of recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers consider cover letters important in their hiring decisions. That’s an opportunity you simply can’t afford to miss. So, let’s buckle up and start your journey to crafting a cover letter that commands attention and gets you noticed.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Purpose of a Cover Letter

So, what exactly is a cover letter, and why should you invest your time in crafting one that stands out?

A cover letter is essentially your personal sales pitch. It’s a document that accompanies your CV, providing context and elaborating on the experiences and skills you’ve listed. It’s not an extension of your CV – it’s an opportunity to tell your story, to share your passion, and to express why you’re the ideal candidate for the job. 

Your cover letter gives the reader a reason to examine different sections of your CV. 

An effective cover letter can make the difference between your CV getting lost in the pile or catching the eye of the hiring manager. It’s your chance to spotlight your most relevant skills and experiences, and explain career transitions.

Above all, your cover letter gives you the opportunity to connect on a personal level with the hiring manager, making it easier for them to envision you as part of their team. That’s why crafting a captivating cover letter is not just recommended, it’s essential!

Section 1: The Salutation

First impressions count, and in a cover letter, your salutation is the initial handshake. It sets the tone and demonstrates your attention to detail.

In an ideal world, you should address your cover letter to a specific individual. A bit of research can often lead you to the name of the hiring manager or recruiter. LinkedIn, the company’s website, or even a quick phone call can work wonders.

Here’s a template for a personalised salutation:

“Dear [First Name] [Last Name],” OR “Dear [Title] [Last Name],”

But what if your detective work comes up empty?

I asked the experts at The British Association of CV Writers about this.  Today, its not just about getting their name right, its also understanding the pronouns they use. 

Therefore, Dear Sir / Madam is redundant.

They came back with some great suggestions, which include:

  • Dear Hiring Team
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Recruitment Team
  • Dear Recruitment Manager
  • Dear [job title of hiring manager]

Luckily for Jane, a marketing professional, who applied for a new role last week managed to identify the hiring manager.  Jane started their cover letter with “Dear Mr. Thompson,” as opposed to a generic “To Whom It May Concern.” The hiring manager later told Jane that their letter stood out because it felt personal and showed initiative. Jane has an interview booked for next week!

Your salutation is your first chance to show you’ve done your homework and you’re genuinely interested in the role.

So, make it count.

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Section 2: The Opening Paragraph

Although 99% of roles require a cover letter, most are not read fully.  In fact, you only have 6 seconds to convince the reader why they should continue to read your cover letter.

How do you do this?

Understand this – What’s in it for me?

Not for you, but for the hiring manager.

So, don’t start with I have x amount of years … blah blah blah.

Start big and start strong with your value proposition.  You should aim to clearly communicate what role you’re applying for and why you’re excited about it.

Here’s a tip: Start with a strong, dynamic sentence that highlights your enthusiasm for the role and the company. Be sure to mention the job title and the company name. This shows that your application is specific and well-thought-out, rather than a generic letter sent to multiple employers.

Here’s a template you might find useful:

“I am thrilled to apply for the [Job Title] at [Company Name].  After the research I have done into your [company name], I found out [insert latest news], and am excited about the opportunity to apply for the role of [role].”

But does the opening paragraph really make that much of a difference? Absolutely! Did you know that hiring managers typically spend just 6 seconds scanning a CV or cover letter before deciding to read further? That’s why starting strong is so important – you need to catch their attention immediately.

The opening paragraph is your chance to make a memorable first impression. It’s worth spending time to get it just right.

Section 3: The Body

The body of your cover letter is where you convince the reader that you are the right fit for the job. It’s where you get to showcase your unique skills, experiences, and values that make you a prime candidate for the role.

Start by selecting one or two key requirements from the job description, then provide specific examples from your past experience that demonstrate your proficiency in these areas. Use quantifiable achievements where possible to really drive your point home.

Here’s a template to help structure the body of your cover letter:

“In my CV, you will see that in my time as a [Previous Job Title] at [Previous Company], I was responsible for [describe a task or responsibility relevant to the job you’re applying for]. In this role, I [describe a specific achievement or initiative that demonstrates your proficiency in this area]. I believe this experience makes me particularly well-suited to the role of [Job Title] at [Company Name].”

Tom, a Franchise Manager recently applied for a role requiring excellent team leadership and problem-solving skills. In the body of his cover letter, Tom detailed a project he had led which was initially over budget and behind schedule. By implementing new strategies and fostering better team collaboration, Tom was able to bring the project back on track, saving his company over £100,000.

In his letter, Tom didn’t just claim he was a good leader and problem solver, he showed it with a concrete example. The result? He was invited for an interview and eventually landed the job.

Well done Tom!

The body of your cover letter is your opportunity to bring your CV to life and provide real-life examples of how you can contribute to the company. Make it count.

Section 4: The Closing Paragraph

The closing paragraph of your cover letter is your final chance to leave a lasting impression. It’s where you summarise your interest in the role and the company, and prompt the reader to take the next step – be it scheduling an interview, reviewing your CV, or contacting you for more information.

Your closing paragraph should be clear, direct, and confident. Express your enthusiasm for the role and the company, and assert your belief that you would be a valuable addition to the team.

Here’s a template to guide you:

“I am very excited about the opportunity to bring my unique blend of skills and experience to [Company Name]. I am confident that I can contribute significantly to your team and look forward to the possibility of discussing my application with you further.”

To illustrate the impact of a strong closing, consider this statistic: a study by Boomerang found that emails ending with a variation of “looking forward to hearing from you” had a response rate of 54.8%, compared to 47.5% for emails that lacked this phrase.

So, don’t underestimate the power of a strong closing. It’s your final chance to leave the reader with a positive impression and lead them towards the next step in the hiring process. Make it count!

As a final tip: Provide your availability to interview.  If you have holiday plans or work trips scheduled  within 4 weeks of posting your job application, be sure to add these dates. 

The next job description you encounter isn’t just a list of responsibilities and requirements – it’s a roadmap guiding you to craft an impactful application and perform well in interviews.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the job market can be tough, but a well-crafted cover letter can truly set you apart from the crowd. From nailing your salutation to writing an engaging opening, constructing a persuasive body, and closing with confidence, each element plays a vital role in creating a compelling narrative about you as a professional.

Think about how much time you taken to write a powerful CV.  Your cover letter provides the opportunity to ensure that it is read.  A cover letter is more than just a formality. It’s an opportunity to tell your story, showcase your fit for the role, and leave a lasting impression. It’s worth taking the time to get it right.

I hope this guide has shed light on how to structure and write an effective cover letter. Now it’s over to you! Start drafting, revising, and refining. Your dream job might be just a letter away.

I invite you all to share your success stories, challenges, or any questions you might have.

We’re all here to learn and grow together.

So, are you ready to craft a cover letter that gets noticed?

Let’s get writing!

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Dave Crumby

I have spent the last 10 years supporting companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies to find and the best talent around the world.  

During this time, I have:

✔️ Scanned and reviewed more than 26000 CVs.

✔️ Conducted over 7000 interviews.

✔️ Secured new jobs and promotions in 20 countries across 3 continents.

For the past 5 years I have been developing best practices and solutions to help good people have great careers and have developed 3 Career Coaching Programmes suitable for all professionals. 

Are you interested in working with me?

Email me today.

Best of luck,

Dave Crumby

Your Career Optimiser | Certified Leadership and Management Consultant

🏆 Winner of Career Development Specialists of The Year 2023

🏆 Winner of Most Supportive Career Branding Service 2022

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