Cover Letters: a guide to writing the perfect letter (part 2)

Posted in: Advice, Tips & Hints

Following last week's guide (blogs.bath.ac.uk/careers/2018/11/06/) on how to structure and plan writing your cover letter; this guide will focus on the best information to include and how to make sure the employer knows that you're the best for the job!

Things employers want to see

Motivation

  • Why are you interested in their company?
  • Why are you interested in that specific role?
  • What do you know about the company and sector – how has it motivated you to want to work with them?
  • Make them feel special - why are you choosing this company over other similar companies?
  • Use emphatic language - get your passions across. Show them you're eager and excited
  • Give real examples that demonstrate your enthusiasm! (and from various backgrounds - academic, work, social)

What relevant skills you have

  • Highlight the key aspects of the job and make direct comparisons with your own skills and experiences – no listing!
  • Explain how you have those skills with examples
  • Show the success or result of the experience – grade achieved? New skill learned? Overcame a challenge? Praised by employer?
  • Based on your skills, why are you the best candidate?
  • Use the buzzwords – repeat their language

That you actually understand the job!

  • Being selective is important - focus on the most important job duties
  • Relate to them with your most recent and relevant experiences
    • Why are you best for this specific role, based on what you know/have experienced?
    • How you will apply your skills to the job (be specific - this is where most students fall down)
  • Avoid just repeating what is asked in the job description - this is too vague. Show that you understand what you'll be doing day-to-day!

Your USP (Unique Selling Point)

  • What additional skills do you have?
  • Do you have a unique skill/experience that sets you aside from other candidates?

E.g. You may be applying for a marketing role within the early years learning sector. They probably aren’t looking for someone who has experience with children – but if you do, this is your USP.
Have you completed an additional course? Have you attended networking events or conferences?

 

Avoiding duplicating info on your CV

Your CV should list your key skills and experiences, but your cover letter will explain how these skills and experiences are relevant to the role!

  • Focus on a few of the most relevant skills and experiences - Delve deeper - how you put these to use
  • Would you be confident putting them to use again? Do you want to develop these skills further?
  • Should be bespoke to every application
  • Have a mini intro and mini conclusion for each paragraph

 

How to sound confident in your abilities

Sentence Flow

  • Read your cover letter aloud – if you find you’re gasping for breath, break up the sentences with full stops/commas
  • Each thought should link to the next
  • Pretend you’re giving a presentation – do you sound convincing? Are you persuaded by your own letter?

Positivity

  • Keep your tone confident and positive throughout – show passion, energy and drive!
  • You might use your cover letter to explain bad grades, or a gap in your CV BUT focus on the positives! i.e. What have you done to bounce back from bad grades?
  • Maybe you're choosing a career / Master's study in a different field to your undergraduate? Focus on positives you learned and what you're eager to be doing next

Things to remember

  • Focus on motivation for role – why you are interested, why your skills relate to job
  • Don’t repeat your CV – be specific on why you are a strong match
  • 1st impression is critical! Check typos and grammar (UK spell check)
  • If it is generic, it is likely to be rejected

Useful Resources

  • The Balance Careers

Posted in: Advice, Tips & Hints

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