While tweeting your favourite editors and conducting interviews over Snapchat is fast becoming the new normal, it pays to keep your old-school skills in check too. While everyone knows the value of a strong CV, the preceding cover letter is just as important when it comes to catching your interviewer’s eye. Read on for tips to make your cover letter stand out from the stack.
Your hiring manager will likely sift through hundreds of cover letters throughout the interview process, and a clean, smart format is key in landing your CV in the ‘yes’ pile. Depending on the type of role you’re applying for, a different format may win out over a more traditional layout. For example, going for a graphic design job? Show off your skills with an eye-catching yet easy-to-read page designed by yourself. If you’re unsure, stick to sans serif fonts and short paragraphs that make the page comfortable on the eye.
Your cover letter is the interviewer’s first glimpse at your professional self, and sets up the framework for your resume. With this in mind, approach your cover letter as an extension of your CV, rather than a separate entity - cross-check your content to make sure you’re representing yourself appropriately and consistently across both documents, sending a consistent message to your potential employer. Consider your cover letter a tasting plate for the information to follow - touch on key points and values, without giving the game away just yet.
While flashy gimmicks and unnecessary information still gets a frown, the cover letter is the ideal platform to pique your interviewer’s interest. Got a fun skill that’d come in handy at the office? Responsible for some killer KPIs at your current role? Extra-curricular activities that enrich you as a professional? Mention them! It can be tricky to stand out on paper, so touching on traits or experiences that make you unique as an employee can make an interviewer want to know more about you.
Your cover letter is the perfect time to highlight key experiences, skills and victories you’ve had professionally, as it gives you the space to articulate and hone in on what makes you the perfect candidate (without having to do mental gymnastics that often come with a face-to-face interview). It’s not enough to say you “exceeded manager’s expectations” or “met professional targets” - use specific examples of your professional prowess, to paint a clearer picture of who you are as a candidate and potential hire.