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4 steps to the perfect cover letter!

Talent acquisition professional Luke Hannon shares relevant tips and hints in your career search.

Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Luke Hannon

A cover letter is a crucial part of any job application. A concise, well-written and persuasive cover letter could be the difference between landing that job or hearing the words "better luck next time!". A good cover letter can help you stand out from the crowd. A good cover letter can make the hiring manager think, "I must hire this person!" Unfortunately, so many people don't know how to write a good cover letter. Here are my four steps to help you nail it.

Step #1 - Starting your cover letter

Dear Sir/Madam or Dear (Jørgen or whatever the Hiring Manager's name is).

What do you think will grab the Hiring Manager's attention more? The second one, right? So do some research and find out the name of the Hiring Manager and address it to them specifically.

But why?

Research shows that using someone's first name gets their attention. It also helps build a connection (something you definitely want to do with the Hiring Manager!) and shows consideration for them as an individual. It also shows that you've taken the time to research and go the extra mile. It sounds simple, but you'd be amazed how few people make this small effort.

Want to get the job? Then start your cover letter off strong.

Step #2 - Why you're perfect for the job

Lead with value.

If there are three words that separate the best cover letters from the mediocre, it's this. So many people spend too much time thanking the hiring manager for reading their application. Or they go on and on about why they're passionate about their hobbies.

Guess what?

The Hiring Manager doesn't care. The Hiring Manager just wants to know why you're the right person for the job. They want to know how your skills and experience would add to the company. So make it easy for them!

Show the Hiring Manager how you're the best person for the job. Be specific, cover as many requirements as possible, and use examples from previous jobs. Remember to include as many numbers and statistics as possible to support your claims. 70% of Danish employers prefer a cover letter to max 1 page. So don't waste time. Get straight to the point.

Want to get the job? Lead with value.

"A call to action is a closing sentence (or sentences!) to inspire the Hiring Manager to take action, such as inviting you to an interview."

Step #3 - Why are you applying

The single biggest mistake people make is writing about your motivation first.

Unfortunately, most people tend to sound very generic when writing their motivations. The Hiring Manager expects that you find the job interesting - you're not going to score any points there.

Because of this, I always recommend writing your motivations AFTER you show the Hiring Manager why you're the best person for the job. Don't spend too much time writing endlessly about why you're applying and thanking the Hiring Manager for reading your application. Keep it brief. Praise the culture and the company - align your experience.

Want to get the job? Keep your motivations brief and to the point!

Step #4 - How to end your cover letter

A call to action is the best way to end a cover letter.

"What's a call to action" I hear? Well, I'm glad you asked! A call to action is a closing sentence (or sentences!) to inspire the Hiring Manager to take action, such as inviting you to an interview. No worries, there's no need to reinvent the wheel or even to be subtle. I always recommend you write something like:

I look forward to hearing from you and would welcome the opportunity to discuss my experience further in an interview.

It's a simple and effective way to suggest to the hiring manager that the most logical next step is for them to invite you to an interview. Adding a call to action will significantly increase your chances of moving to the next stage.

Want to get the job? Then nail your call to action!

There you have it! Use these tips, write the best cover letter ever and find the job your talent deserves! Stay tuned for next month!

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