You've spent hours perfecting your CV and updating your LinkedIn profile so that when you see a job advert, you can apply in seconds at the click of a button.
However, if you’re not spending as much time on your cover letter, then you may be doing yourself and your efforts a great disservice.
In the same way that you would pay attention to your appearance before an interview, you should pay attention to the presentation of your application. Make sure you use correct spellings, sentence and paragraph structure and get your grammar right. And don’t forget, this is a letter, set it out using addresses and correct greetings to endings; if you start Dear Sir/Madam, end your letter as Yours faithfully, if you start Dear Mr X, end your letter as Yours sincerely.
Read the job description and person specification to find out what skills the employer seeks in the ideal candidate. Identify the three most important skills and write specific examples from your own experience to show you possess those skills. Use the STAR technique to structure your examples (Situation, Task, Action and Result).
Research the employer; look at their website, check their social media, read their recruitment information, peruse their annual report and five year plan, talk to current or recent employees and see what’s written about them in the press. What impresses you from this research? Include two or three reasons why you would want to work for them following this research, and link this to your own experience or background (if possible).
Why the role?
Read and understand the job role, and explain what motivates you about the job. It could be the knowledge you’d be using or learning, the day to day tasks, the chance to liaise with outside agencies or the skills you’d use.
If you like the sound of the role, be enthusiastic in your cover letter. Explain why you are just what they are looking for and then flatter them by explaining why they are also right for you.