You’ve summed up your career on one page, highlighted your key strengths, and asked someone to check your CV. Yet after submitting your hundredth job application, you’re still not getting any call backs.

What could you possibly be doing wrong?

There’s a good chance it has nothing to do with your CV. Instead, you may be falling into the same trap as many other job seekers – ignoring the importance of the cover letter.

If a job you’re applying for specifically asks for a cover letter, it’s essential that you give this as much attention as your CV. That’s because a well-written cover letter isn’t just a fancy accessory for your job application. Done right, it can give you the edge you need over your competitors.

So what am I doing wrong? 

The mistake that many people make when writing their cover letter is treating it as a rehash of their CV. They’ll sift through their CV, pick out the main points, and hit the trusty old Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V combo.

pro-tip

Please don’t do this. Hiring managers don’t have the time to read the same material twice in a different format. Think about it – a cover letter gives you an extra page to play with. There’s so much more you could be doing instead of repeating the same things!

Here are four more productive ways to use the extra space on your cover letter.

1. Mention the things you didn’t have space for on your CV

Let’s say you really wanted to talk about your graphic design skills on your CV, but you just couldn’t find enough room, given the other amazing skill sets you had to highlight.

Your cover letter is the perfect place for you to mention the additional skills you have. Just make sure they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for and that mentioning them makes sense in the overall context of your job application.

2. Show off your personality

In your CV, you’re focusing on your skills and experience and trying to be as brief as possible. This doesn’t leave much room to show off your personality and what makes you unique.

This is where the cover letter comes in. You’re literally writing a letter to your potential future employer – so avoid being robotic, and write in a natural way that shows off who you are as a person.

For example, depending on the type of company you’re applying for, you can even be a bit bold and cheeky – why not sneak in a sly pun?

3. Emphasise your fit with the company

One of the most important things to remember when applying for any job is to make as many connections as you can between yourself and the company. You might not be the most experienced candidate, but if you can portray yourself as a great ‘cultural fit’ with the company, you’ll do yourself a massive favour.

So in your cover letter, include a sentence or two about why specifically you’re applying to this company. Does their mission or vision inspire you? Are you impressed by their culture? Do you truly believe their product or service is the best out there? Do you want to be ‘part of their story’?

Your CV doesn’t give you much of an opportunity to string a proper narrative together. That’s why you need to use your cover letter to cement the connection between you and the company.

4. Provide a call to action

It’s often said that your CV is your personal brochure, but ironically, it’s missing the most important part of a brochure – the call to action. The hiring manager has read all about your skills and experience. Now what are they supposed to do?

Make sure you end your cover letter the way any good advertisement ends – tell the reader what they should do next. This means thanking them for considering your application and telling them that you’re looking forward to hearing from them soon. In other words, act confident (like you’ve already secured the job interview) and they’ll be more inclined to actually give you a call.

What else do you think needs to go into a good cover letter? Let us know in the comments below!

– John

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