How to Write a Job-Specific Cover Letter
In today’s digital-first environment, it’s easy for a hiring manager to do a quick Google search on a candidate’s name to shed further light on who is applying to join their team and business.
A simple look at someone’s LinkedIn profile will allow you to validate where they went to school, their educational background and past employers, even any major achievements they’ve accomplished.
However, no matter how impressive, or in-depth a CV may be, or how thorough a prospective employer’s online search is, neither is enough to tell the full story of your business background, or importantly pre-sell why they should look at you in the first place.
So what is then ?
Enter the cover letter…
A great cover letter can be the difference between you getting an interview for the job of your dreams, and being passed over for someone else. However, if you really want to make your cover letter stand out, then you can’t just use a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
A cover letter gives employers a glimpse into your personality, and what you might be like to work with. If it’s lazy, vague, or under-researched, then you’re instantly giving off the wrong impression. That’s why a job-specific cover letter can be so essential.
Job-Specific Cover Letters: Are they Necessary?
Cover letters don’t get the respect they deserve.
For many job candidates, a cover letter is nothing more than a document sent alongside your C.V. to provide further information to the potential employer. However, the truth is that these letters actually give hiring managers hints about you as a person.
- Using the name of the person you’re writing to shows that you know how to pay attention to detail
- Referencing specific examples of your past work, in line with the goals of the business you want to work with shows dedication and relevancy.
- Outlining specific skills and qualifications that fit with the job role up for grabs shows that you’re genuinely qualified for the position.
Cover letters shouldn’t be a copy-pasted document that stays the same for every company. In fact, in order for a letter to really make the recruitment company you want to represent you or a future employer, stop and take notice, it needs to be specific in every way.
After all, most managers would rather have a passionate, determined, and detail-focused individual on their team, than someone who has a stellar c.v, but no intuition.
Specificity is Key to a Successful Cover Letter
Let’s say, for instance, that you were writing a cover letter for a job as a building services engineer. Some of the many ways that you could make your letter job-specific, include:
- Outlining a specific recipient: A cover letter should always be addressed to a specific person. If you can’t find the information on a job ad, call the building company and ask for the name of the hiring manager. On the other hand, use your friendly recruitment consultant for more information. Never use “To whom it may concern”. All this does is show your potential employer that you weren’t concerned enough to find out who you’re speaking to.
- Mentioning a specific position: If you want to be a “Senior Mechanical Building Services Engineer”, then say that in your very first paragraph. Don’t imply that you’re willing to settle for any position – show that you’re passionate about a specific role.
- Drawing attention to specific qualifications/skills: It’s perfectly okay for a few parts of your cover letter to stay the same from one communication to another. However, if you’re applying for an electrical design engineer’s role, it’s worth drawing attention to what makes you right for that job. Your experience in motor vehicle electrics (fixing cars for mates) won’t be relevant here.
- Using specific examples: Wherever possible, don’t just give unsubstantiated judgements about yourself. Use concrete examples: “I think I’d make a good electrical design engineer as I have five years of experience working with the electrical company [Name] in similar roles.”
- Showing specific company knowledge: Finally, showing your future employer that you’ve researched their company is a great idea. It’s not mandatory, but it implies that you’re eager enough to educate yourself about the business.
The Cover Letter Features that Really Work
The ideal cover letter complements your C.V., it explains your reasons for being interested in a specific job and company and identifies your relevant experiences. To make sure you make the right first impression, remember to:
- Keep it fresh: Give every letter that personal touch using the “specifics” guidelines above;
- Be concise: Your cover letter should only mention the most important elements about you;
- Be formal: The world is becoming more communication friendly, but you still need to be formal in your cover letter;
- Remember the details: Check that you’ve included the date, a job reference number if necessary, and ways to contact you;
- End on a positive note: Before you sign off, add something that’s upbeat and positive – like how much you’re looking forward to working with this company, and why.
What to Leave Out of your Cover Letter
In your cover letter, it’s crucial to convey how your motivations, interests, character and other elements equip you to excel in your chosen job. This is your one opportunity to show your potential employer why you’re such a strong candidate, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Just as there are some things you want to include in your cover letter, there are certain things it’s wise to avoid. For instance:
- Any grammar or spelling mistakes: Your cover letter acts as a sample of your accuracy and attention to detail. A single error can knock you out of contention for a job.
- Overly long paragraphs: Devotion is important, but employers simply won’t read your cover letter if it’s too long;
- Anything that’s untrue: Today, facts can be checked, and lies are grounds for dismissing employees or rescinding offers. Don’t take the risk;
- Salary expectations: Unless your potential employer has asked for your salary expectations leave them out. You need to demonstrate that you’re interested in the job itself, not the paycheck;
- Any negative comments about a past employer: This doesn’t reflect well on your character, and can indicate attitude problems.
Show your Industry Passion: Making that All-Important First Impression
A great cover letter can be your first and only chance to make that all-important impression on a potential employer. Anything that’s too vague or uninspiring could simply show your potential employer that you’re not as devoted to the job as other candidates.
Hopefully, the outline above will give you everything you need to craft a highly-successful job-specific cover letter. For more help furthering your career in the building or energy sectors, email us here or call Darren on 01743 247774.