Girl working on her cover letter
Image: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

3 simple ways to make your cover letter shine

4 Jan 2017

With many job applications becoming streamlined on the internet, you might be lucky enough to evade the dreaded cover letter. But if you need to send one or you simply want to stand out, here’s how to make it shine.

If you’re making 2017 the year to make a change in your career, you’re going to need to get organised – strike while the iron’s hot, and all that.

When you’re searching for your dream job, perfecting your CV will probably take the most amount of time and will definitely be the most important part.

But what about that pesky cover letter?

With technology and job applications moving forward all the time, the cover letter is starting to become a little dated. How often do you pour your heart onto a page only to wonder if it’s even read at the other end?

According to James Milligan, IT director at Hays Recruitment, cover letters are starting to die out, so you might not have to worry about them for some of your job applications. “Most online applications are made over the web using an applicant tracking system and don’t lend themselves to cover letters,” said Milligan.

However, a cover letter, or even just a cover e-mail, can really grab employers’ attention, especially now that they’re becoming less common – but only if they’re done right.

And for the employers that still request one, you’ll definitely want to make yours stand out enough so it’s not just scanned over as a formality.

Avoid irrelevant information

Indeed, cover letters are becoming less favourable, which means the ones that are requested should be short and straight to the point.

Milligan advises candidates to leave out any previous experience you consider to be out of date or irrelevant to your ability to do the job you’re applying for.

Identify key skills

Your CV will tell a recruiter exactly what you did in your previous jobs and what kind of specific experience you have. Your cover letter is an opportunity to communicate exactly why your experience makes you perfect for the job.

“Look at the job advert and surmise the keys skills and experience that they have and how they relate to the job,” says Milligan.

Once you have your draft letter written and your CV is done, read over the job requirements again, along with any other information you can find about what traits the company looks for in its employees. Make sure you’ve touched on as many as possible, with proven examples.

Make it stand out

Sending a cover note could make you stand out if one hasn’t been asked for.

However, to really set yourself apart, Milligan suggests “having an innovative video introducing yourself or an infographic CV to accompany your written one. This will leave a more lasting impression.”

Looking for jobs in tech or science? Check out our Employer Profiles for information on companies hiring right now and sign up for our Career Republic e-zine for a weekly digest of sci-tech careers news and advice.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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