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You’re on a job hunt and you’ve come across the dreaded words, “Cover Letter”, you might panic. Hell, you might even cry a little. But by our reckoning, the dreaded cover letter might just be the way to get your foot in the door.

A cover letter is a way of showing your personality to a potential employer in a way that can’t be highlighted in a CV. It is an excellent way to showcase some of your other skills – but it is also the hook that should make a potential employer actually look seriously at your CV. The cover letter accompanies your CV and can be an attachment, or the body of the email.

In today’s job market, a cover letter is an absolute must-have. Since the majority of job seekers now apply for jobs online, it’s a lot easier to apply for several jobs in one session. Many of those who apply for jobs online don’t include a cover letter. According to recruiters, this is a signal to them that not much thought went into the application.

According to jobs.ie, an Irish-based job search site, as many as 60% of applicants don’t include a cover letter with their emailed CVs. This is the case even among companies who specifically requested a cover letter.

Best practice, while time consuming, is to tailor a letter for each of the roles that you apply for. Jobs.ie tells us that less than 5% of applications of hiring managers receive tailored cover letters for a specific job. If you personalise your letters for each role you apply to, then your chances of getting an interview are hugely increased.

Some of our Top Tips to nailing your cover letter

Address the cover letter to a specific person if you can. Usually, this is the person in charge of the department, the hiring manager, or even an external recruiter. If you don’t know the right name, perhaps it would be wise to contact the company who advertised the position to find out who it would be.

Don’t just repeat the information from your CV or resume in the cover letter. Highlight a bit more about your personality. Explain how you could be of benefit to them.

Your letter should not be more than one page. Keep it short but very sweet – it shouldn’t be more than three or four paragraphs.

Before you write your cover letter, re-read the job description. Have a look at the keywords they use in the experience section, and in the body of the description. Try and mirror some of these.

Tailor the cover letter for the company you are interviewing with. Don’t just copy and paste the whole lot. At the very least tailor the first paragraph, but if you’re really serious about the role, then we recommend writing individual letters for each role.

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