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The Dreaded Cover Letter

November 16, 2018 by Shelby Baile

The Dreaded Cover Letter

The average job seeker will usually put a lot of time and effort into crafting the perfect resume. It’s not until it comes time to put in the job application however, that many people realise they’ve overlooked something – the dreaded cover letter.

Now, you may choose not to add a cover letter with your application – or draft one up on the spot – but this is often a mistake and can affect your chances of getting the job. A well written and original cover letter can help you stand out from the crowd, plus it’s often the first thing employers will look at.

Here are four tips to help you create the perfect, original cover letter:

  1. Tailor your cover letter to each job role and company
    The biggest mistake many people make when writing cover letters is sending the same standard, generic letter with every application. The problem with this – it’s boring. Employers may have to read hundreds of cover letters in their search for the perfect candidate – many of which say exactly the same thing. Instead of following the standard online template, customise each cover letter you write to that specific job role. This is often tedious, but chances are it’ll pay off in the long run. It’s also a good idea to research the company and use a tone and format that matches their company culture and brand – a traditional workplace may prefer a drier, straightforward letter, while a workplace that brands themselves as “innovative” or “people-focused” might prefer a more creative, personal approach.
  2. Add to your resume – don’t just rewrite it
    When writing a cover letter it can be difficult to know what sort of content is necessary. It’s important to note that a cover letter should not just be a regurgitation of your resume. It’s a chance for you to expand on the skills you’ve mentioned and to give employers a better understanding of the type of person you are. Try not to use generic terms like “team player” and “good communicator” – but instead use the opportunity to describe your experiences. And, if you’re stuck for inspiration maybe crack open a thesaurus or read through the job advertisement again. This will give you a better understanding of the types of experience and skills they’re looking for – which will help you tailor your experiences appropriately.
  3. Aim to keep it as short as possible
    Keep in mind that employers are very busy people and will often have to look through countless cover letters when hiring new employees. A ten-page cover letter is not exactly going to impress them – keep it short, sharp and sweet. Aim to keep your cover letter within a single page – writing in the margins may work when writing exam notes, but generally won’t impress a potential employer. Industry professionals suggest that five or six short paragraphs are sufficient when writing a cover letter.
  4. Edit it!
    It should be obvious that you need to edit your cover letter – however, often this is a step people seem to think unnecessary. Editing can be time consuming and tedious, but it’s an extremely important part of writing. By sending someone a finished document riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes you unintentionally send the message that you’re lazy and unprofessional – and that you have zero attention to detail. In comparison, a grammatically correct and properly formatted cover letter will show you to be a competent and professional person. Before you send it make sure you re-read your letter out loud at least a couple of times – or find someone to give you a second opinion and pick up on anything you’ve missed.

If you’re a Curtin student and you want to learn more about writing the perfect cover letter – why not attend a Graduate Gateway Resume and Cover Letters Masterclass during November or December 2018 – or head online to Curtin Challenge to complete the Cover Letter module.

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