Infographic on how to brand your cover letter to put you on top of the interview pile.

Tips to Win over potential employers in your Cover Letter

This Infographic covers tips to help you brand your Cover Letter and impress your potential employer.

Your Cover Letter is your introduction to the hiring manager. This is where you can really shine, and showcase your personality. It’s your job to make the reader think ‘wow, I can’t wait to read more’.

I’ve never liked working on Cover Letters with my clients and I often say I wish they’d disappear off the face of the Earth.

Two thoughts, though. First, unfortunately, they’re still with us and unlikely to disappear any time soon. Second, I recently helped to recruit two roles and I was amazed at the effect the various letters (or lack of letters) had on me as I sat in the employer seat.

No Letter = No Job

My most negative response was when the applicant did not even write a letter. I immediately felt insulted, as though they didn’t care enough about the possibility of working for our company to jot down a few words.

So, ALWAYS write a letter, even if one is not specifically requested in the job ad.

Don’t just take my word for it. The following statistics should make you think twice about dismissing the importance of the Cover Letter. Here’s what employers say:

• 40% say the Cover Letter is more important than the résumé

• 76% will reject a candidate due to poor grammar or a spelling mistake

• 23% remove applicants from consideration if their Cover Letter is too long

• 43% regard Cover Letters as just as important as the résumé

Hearts & Stars

My brother Peter’s role has recently been made redundant so of course he approached me to help him write a strong and compelling letter.

If I were being polite, Peter’s first effort was what I call ‘thin’. Because he’s my brother I was much franker and told him it read like a stock standard response that he was using to apply for all roles, with a few minor modifications.

Peter’s letter did NOT make me think:

 1. That he was passionately interested in the role

 2. That he was a ‘star’ candidate

Passionately Interested?: Write from the heart

The first issue, in my opinion, is the hardest part of the letter to write. How to sound as though you really connect with the role and the organisation, in a formal letter without sounding over the top or schmaltzy?

My advice is to first write from the heart. Put down exactly what it is about the role that appeals to you, in ordinary everyday language. That way, it should ring true. You can go back later and clean it up, using more formal language if necessary. Use pen and paper not the keyboard: that way, you are more likely to avoid impersonal business language.

Star Candidate?: Cover key elements and leave no doubts

In relation to the second issue, if you are struggling to fit all of your content onto one page, it’s a good sign that you have covered all key elements of the role. Here, again, it is important to avoid sterile, cold ‘corporate speak’ language. 

Match your content to the seniority of the role but write in a professionally chatty way. Your résumé is fiercely formal – what’s the point of producing another document that has the same impersonal tone?

Take the opportunity of painting a different picture of yourself in the letter. I call it ‘passing the aeroplane test’, as in ‘I’d be happy sitting next to him in a plane’. Your next possible boss is reading your letter. You want her to think, ‘This person seems nice and normal. I can see myself working with him.’

Make the letter specific to the job: an employer spots a generic letter a mile off.

Once you have painted a compelling picture of why you are the ‘star’ applicant, ask a friend who’s good with English to help you hone the content.

Winning tips in this Infographic.