In the application process you may find that you need to write a cover letter to support your application. Whilst not all employers will ask for one, they're a fairly common requirement when applying to roles in finance or similar industries.
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a document you send in with your application to complement your CV. It is essentially a letter you write to the company which offers them a personal introduction to yourself and gives you the opportunity to explain to the potential employer why you are the best candidate for the desired job.
The goal here is to sell the employer the best, most professional version of yourself, the version of yourself that belongs in their company. Here's some tips to help you draft a top cover letter:
Before you Start
The most important bit of cover letter advice is to write a completely new Cover Letter for every application that requires one. The company wants a personal and meaningful letter rather than the one you sent someone else with the company name changed. It's fine to copy and paste a few strong sentences but doing that for the whole letter won't convince the employer that you're truly excited to work for them. A good measure of whether the letter is good enough is if you can replace the name of the company with one of their competitors and the whole thing still makes complete sense, then it won't be good enough.
Treat the job description like a Bible. Copy the paste of the job description into a Word Cloud and see what words stand out. The words that stand out will likely be the key skills for the job that you need to work into your letter.
Get into the right mindset. Become your own wingman. Generate hype with your cover letter.
A cover letter should always be less than one page long with an reasonably-sized font that is easy to read.
Be concise. Use the letter to display that you have great written communication skills.
Generally the letter should tell the employer what transferable skills you have that will be useful to their company, what motivation you have for applying to the company and puts emphasis on how you are a good fit for the role.
Have a strong opening line. It is likely the employer will have thousands of cover letters to go through so you want to have an interesting start to make them want to read on through your whole letter.
Similarly, you want to finish strong as well. It may be easy to settle for a standard line like "I look forward to hearing from you". Consider instead closing by again emphasising your enthusiasm and fit for the role.
As the application will have included your CV already, you want to go beyond what is already on your CV. Take the achievements included on the CV and elaborate on them by including how you tackled the responsibilities you've mentioned and any additional details on what about your personality and skills was so important in getting the job done.
Simply describe how you can deliver the key competencies that the job requires.
It is common for cover letters to come across as begging for a job. Instead you need to say what you can do for the company, not what they can do for you.
If applying to a role you have no experience in, don't fall into the trap of trying to excuse why you haven't got the relevant experience. Focus on your strengths and what transferable skills you can bring to the desired role.
Show the company that you've done your research and know a lot about them. If you've met their employees at an event, this can also be a great way to work in your passion for the company.
Hint that there is even more to you than just what is contained in your impressive CV. This can intrigue the recruiter and tempt them into inviting you to an interview.
That is just a little bit of cover letter advice. They are by no means easy to write so it is important to practice writing them early and keep refining your technique. Even though it can be daunting, do not let yourself avoid applying for jobs that require cover letters. In the end they are just an additional means for you to sell yourself so it could be just what gets you an interview.