Aside from your resume, your cover letter is one of the main weapons in your traditional job hunting arsenal. Still super relevant and absolutely required by majority of formal job ads, the cover letter allows you to tailor your application to each employer and each role.
So how do you start?
What needs to go into it?
So there are a few things that absolutely need to go into your letter:
This can be short, or long, or somewhere in between. Definitely include your name though.
Mention the job that you’re applying for – front and centre.
You might put this in the top line of the letter. You might put the job title in bold.
Essentially you want to make sure that your application doesn’t get misinterpreted or overlooked, or accidentally put into the wrong pile of paperwork.
Why you’re a good fit for the role.
Highlight relevant skills, attributes or interests.
eg I have skills in audio editing using Adobe Audition, and have used these skills to produce promos, radio segments and podcasts.
eg. I’m on top of all the latest Kimye news and gossip.
What value you can bring to the organisation.
This bit sounds similar to the above, but is importantly different. Why are you excited about the opportunity? How will your skills, enthusiasm and help them achieve their goals?
How they find out more and get in touch with you.
Obviously – contact details! Also make sure you get them to read your WordPress site and resume. Refer them to any social media accounts that are relevant.
Think: who are you writing for?
Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager.
What are they looking for?
What do you want them to know?
What do you want to tell them?
Once you’ve written your first draft, re-read it.
How many times have you used the words “I” or “me”?
How many times have you used the word “you” or the name of the company?
Can you shift the balance a bit?
(You’re not going for 50/50, or any specific ratio btw – just see if you can increase the references to the reader and the organisation they’re hiring for.)
Choose the right tone
Mirror the organisation culture in the language you choose.
Have a look at the organisation website and socials to make sure you get it down pat before you start writing.
If you’re applying for a media job, the cover letter is an extra chance for you to showcase your work. Think about:
- Level of formality
- Use of jargon and pop culture references
- Use of humour – if it’s appropriate. (That said, if in doubt, leave it out.)
Choose the right look
Make sure that your letter looks a bit similar to your resume. Also your WordPress. Also your socials etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. (repeat forever)
Write – then edit, edit, edit
Write a cover letter for a job that you might be interested in applying for. (You don’t have to hit “send” at the end of this exercise – but it helps to have a real job ad to start with.)
Write down everything that you can think of that’s relevant to this job application. This might be paragraphs, full sentences or just keywords.
Start to group these ideas together. You might put all your technical skills together. You might group things together by “why I’m excited about this job”, “why I’d be good at this job”, “relevant things I’ve done before”. Link bits together.
Keep going until it starts to look like a cover letter 🙂
Hopefully this bit is obvious. It helps to have someone else read through it.
Tip: if you can’t get someone else to read it (eg. it’s due in 10 minutes and your mum isn’t home from work), read it out loud – sentence by sentence, starting at the end and working backwards. It’s not perfect, but you seem to pick up more typos this way.
PS. Your TAFE teachers are excellent proof readers.