Your cover letter goes hand in hand with your resume to make a first impression that could be the epitome of brilliance or a downright disaster.
Obviously if you are taking the time to apply, then you would prefer the former rather than the latter, but in my experience as a recruiter it is not often the case.
I want you to think about love letters for a minute.
These days, love letters aren't as popular as they once were, maybe because we have internet and texting and Snapchat. Back in the day though, love letters were the way to go. Love letters are awesome for achieving two things:
- They give you an opportunity to tell someone how you feel about them.
- They help you to convince the other person to love you back!
Back to cover letters.
Cover letters help you achieve two things:
- They give you an opportunity to tell your ideal employer how you feel about them (and why you want to work for them!)
- They help you to convince your ideal employer to love you back!
Do you see where I'm going with this? Here is my number one tip to turn your cover letter into a (professional) love letter!
Tone, tone, tone. It's all about the tone.
When writing your cover letter, the best thing to do is match the tone of the job advertisement. If an advertisement is conversational, respond using similar, relaxed language. If it is more formal, ensure you use proper language, avoid slang and steer clear of contractions. (Instead of "isn't" write "is not").
Below is an advertisement that I found on SEEK.
The title on this one gives it away!
This company is looking for a "Rockstar" .Net Developer. The entire ad is very relaxed - the language is super informal and there was a strong focus on the fun environment this employer has to offer. The ad specifically mentions that they are looking for someone with a good sense of humour and there are several mentions of the team, so you know this is employer has a strong team culture.
When matching the tone of an informal advertisement like this one, you want to show off your personality without being too familiar. You still want to communicate the skills and experience that you bring to the role, but you can be a little more relaxed in your language and put more of a focus on why you are a good culture fit. You know, tell 'em how awesome you are.
Writing cover letters for advertisements like this can be really fun. The most important thing is to be yourself - don't try to be too cool. It won't be authentic.
When writing a cover letter, match the tone of the original advert for max results!
Here are some excerpts from a more "informal" cover letter that I wrote for a similar role to this one:
"I am a professional and hard-working individual, with a great sense of humour and a willingness to learn and develop with my work colleagues. I am extremely passionate about my field of work and thrive in environments where my passion is shared. For this reason, I enjoy working with cutting edge technologies and pride myself on my commitment to keeping “up to date” with new developments."
"I am a nerd! I can be a little shy at first, but I am very personable and I think that I would be a great culture fit for the team as you have explained it!"
I ALSO FOUND THIS MORE FORMAL AD ON SEEK.
This ad is quite serious.
The advertiser is very clear about the requirements of the job and there was no mucking around, suggesting that they would prefer a highly professional response. There is far less focus on culture fit and there is minimal mention of the team. A response to this advertisement should be heavily centred around your skills and experience, paying particular attention to the points in the "essential experience and attributes" section.
Writing formal cover letters like this might not be quite as fun, but they do give you an opportunity to demonstrate your professional writing skills, as well as proving that you meet the specific requirements of the role.
Here is an excerpt from a more formal cover letter that I have written:
"In my current role, I am responsible for the management of all recruitment and human resources support for the organisation. As the Human Resources Advisor, I am accountable for all recruitment and selection projects, business development and management of casual and short-term staffing arrangements. I have recently been focused on staff training, with the preparation and delivery of development programs.
In this role, I am required to have a strong understanding of employment relations, as well as providing consultancy support to internal and external clients. In addition to this, I am responsible for reporting on all activity for the branch, including the preparation of weekly profit and loss statements."
CLICK BELOW TO GET YOUR FREE EBOOK: 7 cover letter mistakes you don't want to make. you really don't want to make these mistakes!
So, now it is over to you!
You have read my thoughts on tone - now it is time to put them into practice! The long and the short of it is this:
If you prepare a well-written cover letter, that matches the tone of the advertisement and demonstrates your suitability for the role, you are one step closer to finding an employer that will love you! Of course, you need to have the skills and experience that your potential employer is looking for, but a strong cover letter will help you make that positive first impression AND help you stand out in a pile of applications!
Please let me know if you implement these tips and if you have any other tricks for turning your cover letter into a (professional) love letter.