The prospect of writing a targeted cover letter for an advertised role can strike fear in the heart of the innocent job seeker, causing real angst about where to begin, what to write, and how to impress. It can be the stuff of nightmares, evoking blood-curdling screams from stressed candidates who have already spent a significant amount of time perfecting their CV. Left to the last minute, the resulting document is often frightful, ghastly, and gloomy, horrifying the reader or just sending them into a deep sleep.
Don’t panic. Help is at hand. This Halloween-themed blog shares six cover letter tricks to help you treat and even bewitch your target reader.
#1 Get the bones right
If you establish the bones of your letter first, you’ll stand more chance of presenting a clear, well-structured letter that is easy to read and ticks all the job requirements. A compelling letter that addresses all defined requirements in a structured, logical way is sure to give the reader goosebumps.
#2 Carve out your niche
Imagine your cover letter is like your untouched Halloween pumpkin. Writing the same staid phrases is the equivalent of using a standard design template for your pumpkin, it won’t cause heads to turn. Your challenge is to carve out your niche, presenting a personalised and convincing argument for your employment. When you pour your unique perspective and offering into your cover letter, that’s when the magic happens.
Use your cover letter to show how you are uniquely qualified for the role, signposting relevant skills and experience, and evidencing how you have applied your knowledge to achieve the kind of results the successful candidate would be expected to deliver. The result? A spellbinding, spine-tingling read.
#3 Don’t be a zombie
There’s something sinister about cover letters that show no personality, using hackneyed phrases to present their case. It can be eerie, leaving the reader wondering if there is anybody home, or if the robotic text has been produced by a member of the walking dead. Boring words can mask your true talents, leaving your skills and potential unexplained.
Show you have life running through your veins, and write words you would be proud to speak if presenting your case in person. A personalised and spirited response will be much more compelling that a string of clichés.
#4 Avoid showing warts and all
A deadly mistake is using your cover letter to give an extensive explanation of weaknesses and failings. It can be tempting to justify why you don’t meet particular role requirements, but you risk frightening the reader off before you even get to interview.
You’d be better to shine your torch on the qualities, skills, and achievements that will position you as a candidate of interest.
#5 Possess the right name to impress the reader
Using a generic greeting such as Dear Sir/Madam can be seen as lazy, impolite, and even darken your prospects of employment.
In today’s job search, we are lucky to have the tools ready at our fingertips to find out the right name and job title of the person we are addressing. Put aside concerns about being creepy and locate the person you want to write to. Search for the head of department on LinkedIn, ring head office to ask for the right name, or use the company website to identify the right person and address the letter accordingly.
#6 Avoid deadly spelling and grammar mistakes
Poor spelling and grammatical errors can let your cover letter down, resulting in boos and cackles from recruiters and hiring managers. Proofread, use spellcheck, and for total clarity, consider using tools like Grammarly to achieve a perfect read.
It’s a good idea to read your cover letter aloud before you hit ‘send’. Hearing your words will help you to identify any clumsy phrasing, and ensure that your first communication with your target company is concise and eloquent.
OK, you’re set. Go forth and write a spookily-good cover letter this Halloween.