An Example Of A Great Cover Letter

Occasionally I’ll reach out to friends who run their own businesses, or who are responsible for hiring staff in their professional roles.

I want to hear about their experiences with people applying for roles, what common trends they are seeing, and how they are dealing with some of the challenges that come up in the hiring process.

Every now and then, someone will let me know if they’ve had an awful experience – or in this case, if they’ve had an exceptional one.

Recently an enterprising friend started Massage World, an e-commerce business that sells massage tables and supplies. He was looking for a customer service person, and as so often happens, had been inundated with applications.

After sifting through the obvious misfits, he got down to the long task of assessing the good candidates. About halfway through the list, he opened an application that really surprised him.

The applicant had made not one, but two purchases from the site – once online, and once over the phone, to test out their existing customer service.

They included their order numbers in the cover letter to show they were legitimate, and then went on to outline a couple of friction points they’d noticed, along with suggestions as to how these could be overcome for future customers.

That is some exceptional lateral thinking, and is absolutely going to get you noticed. And sure – it might not be practical for you to always buy something from the company you want to work for, but it gives you a sense of the kind of effort that’s going to make you blitz your competition in the application process.

Needless to say, my friend hired this customer service gun. The rest of his cover letter had been solid, and his resume backed up his claims to have done great work in the past. It’s working out really well, with the new hire bringing enthusiasm, creativity and consistently good work to the role.

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How To Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out

By now, you’re probably aware that crafting a stand-out cover letter is a key factor in landing an interview – and the job.

But what does that mean? How do you do it, and make sure that what you think is a great cover letter isn’t just run-of-the-mill stuff the employer sees with every application?

Today I’ve got a few tips for you that will guarantee your cover letter jumps off the desk at the person selecting candidates. Follow these and your cover letter will be head and shoulders above the rest.

How To Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out:

1. Read the Job Ad Closely.

You would be amazed at the number of people who see a job opening, scan it briefly for the bare minimum detail, and then race off to send in a cookie-cutter cover letter and their resume. They would be better off taking the time to really read and understand what’s in the ad, because they’d be able to build a deeper understanding of what the employer is really looking for.

When reading the job ad, list the skills they are looking for, then think critically about what those requirements mean in real terms. Then, when you’re writing your cover letter, you can talk about your experience in delivering exactly what it is they are looking for.

2. Give Them Hard Evidence.

Anyone can write a cover letter that says they would be a great fit for the job and that they’ve got experience in the industry. What’s going to make you stand out is how you quantify that claim. Describe what you’ve achieved with your industry experience in hard terms – give them the percentage by which you increased sales or reduced customer attrition. Explain how you reduced staff churn through a specific initiative or saved the company $XX by implementing certain SOPs.

What employers want is someone who executes – not someone who just talks about it. If you can show you’re in it for the action, and that you know how to get results, you’re going to be a much more appealing candidate than anyone who just says they’re a good fit.

3. Personalise It.

Hiring managers will most likely see hundreds of applications for a single role. Make the effort to find out will be making the decision, and address your letter to them specifically. Personalise the rest of the letter, too – make it about your company, your team, your role. Not the company, the team or the role. You and your are personal words that create a small but tangible connection between you and the person reading the cover letter.

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Things To Avoid In Your Cover Letter

Getting your cover letter just right is the key to landing an interview in the role that you’re hoping to land. It provides you a clear opportunity to put your best foot forward and to make a strong impression on the hiring manager.

So you would be amazed at the number of people who completely miff their cover letters, turning them in riddled with mistakes and inconsistencies. While a good cover letter will often get you an interview, a bad one will relegate your application to the trash can.

Therefore, it’s important for you to have a checklist of things to avoid in your cover letter. Whenever you write a new one – and it should be for every job application – go over this list to make sure everything is ship-shape.

1. Not Leaving Enough Time.

Crafting a good cover letter will take a bit of time – usually about an hour once you’ve done all your research and written up a cohesive letter. Do not make the most common mistake of all, and leave it right to the last minute, when you don’t have enough time to find all the information you need, and are more prone to sloppy mistakes.

2. Writing in Corporate-Speak.

A hiring manager knows exactly what all the corporate terms mean, and just how empty they can be. Don’t apply with phrases regurgitate from the job ad, like “I am dedicated to building long-term market sophistication and achieving key metrics as per the requirements of the board” – it’s boring and means very little. Paraphrase here, to say “I want to see this company thrive and become the best in the field over the coming years. I’m also very excited to work towards XYZ goals as part of this team.” Don’t go overboard and try to be funny, but write as though you were speaking to the person.

4. Spelling and Grammatical Errors.

For God’s sake. I don’t know why this is even on the list, but that’s how often people make the simplest mistakes. If you are not confident that you’ll get all the spelling and grammar correct, have someone else read over it. Spellcheck often misses things, particularly if you have an autocorrect function turned on. Nothing will knock you out of the running faster than these basic mistakes, so go over your cover letter with a fine-tooth comb before you turn it in.

5. Excluding Contact Details.

Let’s say you wrote the best cover letter in the history of time. The hiring manager decided on the spot that the job was yours, and reached to find your resume in order to call you to let you know. But disaster has struck, and your resume is no longer attached to the cover letter… it’s gone, and your contact details with it. For this reason you should always include your contact details on both your resume and cover letter. Make sure they have every method of contacting you, so that if they need clarification or to have you resend something, they can contact you easily.

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How To Write A Cover Letter

Your cover letter is a vital piece of any job application.

In fact, I would argue that it’s possibly even more important than your resume itself. Where a resume can be a simple list of skills and experiences, a cover letter can be a true representation of who you are and what you can bring to a business.

In order to have maximum impact, there are some key things you must factor in when you are writing a cover letter. Each element here is important, so make sure you give yourself enough time when writing a cover letter – don’t rush it or leave it to the last minute.

How To Write A Cover Letter:

  1. Make sure you address it to the person who will be going through all the applications. If you can find their full name, that’s perfect, but otherwise address it to their job title.
  2. Always include the position you are applying for. If the business is hiring for multiple positions, don’t assume they will make the time to read through your resume to figure out which one you’re after.
  3. Don’t just repeat what’s in your resume. Where your resume is an impersonal listing of your qualifications and experience, your cover letter should be an illustration of why those qualifications and experiences make you the right candidate for the job. You should also write a fresh cover letter for each role you apply for, as the cookie-cutter approach is very obvious to employers.
  4. Make sure your tone is friendly and warm, without being too informal. Never criticise colleagues or previous employers, and avoid any reference to conflicts or problems that you’ve experienced previously. Employers don’t want to hire a trouble-maker – and even if that’s not how you see yourself, if you mention those problems, that’s how they will see you.
  5. Be concise and to the point. Tell the employer why you want to work for them, and what you’re going to bring to their team – now is not the time to hide your light! Go the extra mile and find out what projects they are working on, and what skills you would bring to those projects. Try to avoid sounding like a braggart, but if you don’t blow your own horn, no one else will. Just make sure you include evidence to back up your claims.
  6. Don’t include anything that’s irrelevant to the job. Employers really don’t care about your hobbies unless they have a direct impact on how you perform in your role.
  7. Finally, make sure you point them to your resume, and include all your contact details. Hand-sign it, or if you’re on email, close off with a warm salutation. You should list your LinkedIn profile (which should be complete and up to date), your email, phone number and any other pertinent information.
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Why You Need A Cover Letter

When I first told people I was starting a website dedicated solely to the cover letter, I got a range of responses.

Some people laughed in my face, others cringed at how boring it all seemed, and still others questioned whether the cover letter was even still in play in this modern day and age.

The short answer is that yes, cover letters still hold the floor when it comes to making you stand out to an employer. And no matter how old-fashioned or boring it might seem to you, to resist putting the work into a cover letter is to slam doors shut to yourself, rather than opening them.

You see, in such a competitive job market, anyone who is hiring can expect a tonne of applications, many of whom will be perfectly qualified for the position.

A friend who works in publishing told me recently that for an entry-level job – admin and answering phones – she got over 400 applications. For an entry-level role.

What happens when the role is higher up the chain, offering a bigger paycheck and better perks? You can expect just as much competition.

With those kind of odds, you simply cannot expect to glide by on the qualifications and experience listed on your CV. Crafting a cover letter is what sets you apart from the crowd of other applicants who did the same degree and have similar work experience.

Your cover letter gives you an opportunity to inject some personality into the application, to give the hiring party a sense of who you are and what you’ll bring to their team. It gives you an opportunity to tie all your experience together and demonstrate why your unique abilities will be an asset to the company.

It also means that you can catch the eye of a specific person – if you know the name of the person doing the hiring, addressing the letter to them will show that you’ve got an eye for detail and that you understand that business is really about people.

Your chance of success improves dramatically if you include a cover letter, so don’t skimp on time to make sure it’s powerful and compelling.

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