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Secrets to Writing a Winning Cover Letter

Tips and tricks you won’t find in a generic cover letter template.

1. Replicate the job ad language and tone

A common mistake a lot of applicants make is using one cover letter template for every available position. A better approach is to tailor each one to reflect the language of each job advertisement. That way, you create an alignment between you and the organisation. If the ad is written formally, ensure your cover letter is formally written too. If it’s got a lot of flair, replicate with a bit of colour. Remember to also utilise any keywords mentioned.

2. Distinguish yourself from the masses

While it’s important not to go too heavy with information already noted in your CV, it is advisable to re-enforce in your cover letter what makes you unique (or as they say in corporate circles, your “unique selling proposition” or USP). You may highlight, for example, that not only are you an “experienced journalist”, but you have also acquired skills in “building audiences online.”

Hint: Businesses want to see that you are results driven. If possible, use a statistic here to highlight a major accomplishment. For example: “readership at the newspaper grew by 45 per cent under my tenure.”

3. Leverage your unique skills

Your cover letter should also include a quick statement on how your USP will help the applicable organisation. If you are applying for a restaurant manager role at a new venue, for example, noting how your “international experience” will help “bring world-best practices” to the restaurant may set you apart.

Don’t be afraid to go beyond what is noted in the key selection criteria if your unique skills will have a significant positive impact. If you are applying for a social media coordinator role, mentioning your own “strong social following” and how your experience in acquiring a loyal online audience could be applied to promoting the company’s new “interstate retail stores” will certainly impress. The trick is to connect you with them.

4. Note the attractive company attributes

Rarely will you see “workplace fit” as a noted job criterion but ultimately, for most jobs, it’s a key to selection determinant. The cover letter is your chance to express your eligibility here. And the best way to go about it is to align your values with theirs by making mention of what you admire about them.

Try and avoid mentioning generic attributes like “good team environment” or “good culture”. Research the company and find more distinctive attributes. You may admire their “environmental efforts in minimising waste” for example, or their use of “local produce from sustainable farmers”.

5. Finish with an eager call to action

Most cover letters will finish with a comment that more or less says the applicant looks “forward to hearing back” from their potential employers. A recommended alternative is to close with a passive call to action, such as requesting a “meeting to discuss the application in more detail, and to talk through the ideas you have.” This will set you apart from the rest and show your eagerness for the role.

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