If you’re like 86,000 other Australian adults, you’ve been job hunting for weeks, possibly months or even years. Though the government works hard to create new jobs, the 6.2% unemployment rate is a tough problem to tackle, so not everyone comes away with a pay cheque each week.
In your search for an employer, you’ve discovered multiple websites offering to match you with a potential job in construction, engineering or architecture. The available positions look promising, but you know that thousands of other job hunters will compete for the job.
So what can you do to ensure your cover letter stands out from the crowd?
1. Don’t Copy and Paste
Many word processors have ready-made cover letter templates on file. All you have to do is fill in the blanks and upload the finished document. However, you can bet that many other job hunters use those same templates when writing their letters, and your employer will undoubtedly recognise the copies.
Furthermore, your employer will also have access to your résumé or CV, so he or she will have an easy-to-read list of hard skills on hand. If you rehash your content from your résumé, your employer may assume that you take shortcuts in your work and that you have no other abilities worth noting.
As you write, keep your sentences fresh and original, and focus on skills and abilities that you can’t easily describe in a bulleted list, such as your passion or enthusiasm.
2. Share Your Passion
Your cover letter is your chance to share who you are and what makes you different from the thousands of other applicants and candidates for the job. When employers look for new hires, they want someone who not only performs a job well but loves the job they perform.
In fact, studies show happy employees work 12% harder than unhappy ones. Consequently, if a manager wants to save money and make more profits, he or she will want to find someone who can’t wait to start.
When you describe your skills, don’t be afraid to share your love for the job. Give employers a taste of your plans to revolutionise the industry or develop new ways to minimise downtimes.
3. Show (Don’t Tell) What You Bring to the Table
Although you should definitely describe yourself and your abilities in your letter, don’t forget that the world doesn’t revolve around you. If you start too many of your sentences with ‘I believe’, ‘I have’, ‘I am’ or ‘I want’, you may sound a little conceited.
To emphasise your skills without appearing vain, remind your potential employer about how those skills help him or her or the rest of the company.
For example, instead of saying that you have experience with social media, write about how you can launch the company’s social media campaign and increase their followers by 15%. Or instead of saying that you are punctual, mention that you arrive 15 minutes early every day so your boss will have more time to spend with his or her family.
4. Use Strong, Active and Personable Language
Cover letters often seem like an intimidating formality, as your job and career depend on their success. Understandably, you want to impress your employer with your firm grasp of grammar and semantics, so you may feel tempted to use flowery words and complex sentences.
Don’t give in to that temptation.
Employers often have a tight schedule, and many prefer to not spend extra time reading résumés and cover letters. Longer, complicated sentences often lose their meaning, and sophisticated synonyms in passive language often lose their flair and style.
So stick to the point. Address your employer directly. And speak his or her language, preferably in as few words as possible.
When you follow these four steps, your cover letter will attract your employer’s attention and land you an interview for the job.