About the Author
Chloe Chioy is a Staff Writer and Digital Marketing Coordinator at CV Genius and Resume Genius. Her job advice has been featured on career platforms like Zapier and CharityJob, as well as on the BBC.
If you’re sending out job applications and not hearing back, your cover letter might be to blame. To some employers, cover letters are the most important part of job applications because they convey the applicants’ personality, whereas a resume focuses only on tangible information.
The good news is, that although you can’t change the professional experiences on your CV, your cover letter can be altered to better represent you and reflect what value you can bring to the company you’re applying to.
When you go over your cover letter, even the smallest details can make a difference. Follow these top five tips to improve your cover letter and improve your chances of getting an interview.
1. Address the employer by name
Just like automatically reacting when someone says your name, you’re more likely to capture an employer’s attention if you address them by name. Being personally addressed gives employers the sense that they’re being directly spoken to, which helps your cover letter seem more sincere.
Don’t use salutations like “Dear Employer,” or “To Whom It May Concern” unless absolutely necessary because they can come across as generic. Companies won’t think you’re truly interested in the position if you’re sending out the same cover letter with every application (even if you aren’t).
If you can’t find the specific employer’s name, try addressing your cover letter to the department head of the role you’re applying for. Looking through company pages on LinkedIn is an easy and accurate way to find the names of employees.
2. Use a personal touch in your opening paragraph
Many candidates begin their cover letters by stating their names and where they’re from. Although it’s polite to include a self-introduction, the employer already knows your name and general background information. Therefore, you should lead with new and interesting information about yourself.
You should include one of the following in your opening paragraph, and tie it in with your career goals:
- A personal anecdote
- Passion for the industry
- Admiration for the company
- What value you can offer the company
Here’s an example: “When I was six, I wanted to be a mannequin so I could show off my fabulous designs. While I no longer want to be a mannequin, I still love designing clothes that people feel amazing wearing – a goal that makes me a perfect fashion designer. “
This example incorporates a personal anecdote, passion for the industry, and a touch of humour that differentiate it from generic cover letter introductions and make your application more memorable.
3. Use cause and effect formatting when listing your achievements
Although you’re encouraged to concisely list achievements in your resume, your cover letter gives you the opportunity to expand on a select few achievements.
Choose one to two relevant achievements to write about, but instead of simply listing what you achieved, include how you achieved them in a cause and effect manner.
For example, instead of stating, “Processed 300+ customer transactions daily,” as you would on your resume, expand by writing, “I improved our daily customer transaction rate by 4% in 6 months by implementing new POC software.”
This method effectively highlights what you did and what you achieved for the company in the process. After explaining your contributions, tie in how you plan to positively impact the company you’re applying to.
4. Update your cover letter to reflect the company’s details
If you’re using a cover letter you wrote months, or even weeks ago, chances are your cover letter is outdated. Companies are always releasing new products, software, and services to stay ahead of their competitors, so you need to update your cover letter to accurately depict these updates.
For example, if you’re applying to a tech company and wrote about wanting to improve their video editing software by implementing a new feature, you need to check their social media, press releases, and website to make sure they haven’t made any changes to their video editing software.
If employers can tell you’re up to date with their products and services, you’re much more likely to leave a good impression.
5. End your closing paragraph with a call to action (CTA)
Featuring a call to action on your cover letter proves to employers that you’re committed to landing the position. It also lets you convey soft skills like determination and confidence which will help your application be more memorable.
Here is an example: “I look forward to the opportunity to speak with you further in an interview to discuss my qualifications. You can reach me by email at name(at)gmail(dot)com anytime.”
In this example, the candidate shows initiative by offering to discuss their application further and restating their contact information for the employer’s convenience.
Your cover letter gives you the chance to impress employers with your personality and passion. Therefore, improving it may help you place over other candidates who have more professional experiences and relevant skills.If you’re unsure how to begin, use a cover letter template and personalise your information from there.