Top tips on how to write the perfect cover letter by recruitment experts

Avoid your CV being sent to the reject pile with a cover letter that stands out from the crowd

Ah the dreaded cover letter – The eternal questions for job hunters are numerous: How long should my cover letter be? How formal should it be written? What are the do’s and don’ts?

Reed’s recruitment gurus suggest that a formally structured letter is the place to start. Your address and personal details aligned right and the employers’ aligned left. An important start to the letter is to ensure that you have addressed it correctly or to “Dear Sir/Madam” if no name is given. If you’re feeling particularly lazy, Reed even provide a free cover letter template to get you started.

When employers are drowning in job applications, the last thing they want to do is to wade through essays of cover letters. Keep it brief and make it clear and punchy, no more than one side of an A4.  Spend an extra few minutes tailoring the cover letter to each job you apply for as each role will require specific skills and these need to be highlighted within your summary.

So, what do job hunting experts recommend to up your cover letter game?

Duncan Watt, who runs the website The CV & Interview Expert told The Independent: “The best approach is to summarise the three to four most important things on the job description and then address these in a logical manner, highlighting briefly how your experience matches the requirements.

“If it is a speculative letter then look at the key requirements of the kind of role you are applying for, and the companies stated values, and apply the same principle,” he added.

Watt says one of the most common mistakes people make is “overselling yourself, by making claims which if true would mean you don’t need a job as you are already hugely successful”.

The other error is talking about what you want from your next role. “Companies are generally more interested in what you bring to the table in the first instance,” he said.

For more senior candidates or those who have spent time building up experience it may be tricky to condense the letter. Watt says “Only cover things in the letter that relate to the company or job in question, if you have 20 skills but only four are relevant then focus on those four.”

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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