The last year has been a difficult one for students. Regardless of where you’re up to in your studies, that graduation date is still looming in the distance. While your studies have been very different over the last year, you still need to prepare yourself for entering the job market.
Many jobs are likely to look quite different from the way they did a year ago, with many more roles now being performed from home. However, something that won’t change is the initial job screening process for applicants, where you’ll still need a killer CV and cover letter to get yourself noticed.
Here are some top tips to craft the perfect cover letter so you can land that dream job after graduation.
Use the Hiring Manager’s Name
While you’re likely to be shelling out dozens of applications, it’s essential to make sure you individually tailor your cover letter to the recipient. Using generic openers such as “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” will come across like you haven’t done your research and that you’re using the same cover letter for each job application, which may not put you in a favourable light.
Try and find the name of the person who’ll be reading your cover letter and use their first and last name, including “Mr.” or “Ms.”. If you’re struggling to find the recipient’s exact name, address your cover letter to the department’s head for the job you’re applying for. If that’s still not something you can find out, aim for something specific but without a name, such as “Accounting Hiring Manager”.
Perfect that Opening Line
The first line can make or break your cover letter. If you pick something generic or uninteresting, your letter might go straight in the bin. The recipient of your cover letter will likely be going through dozens, if not hundreds, of cover letters for just one role, so make sure you stand out from the pack with a killer opening line.
Introduce yourself with a snappy line that immediately tells the recipient about your excitement for the role or your relevant experience or past accomplishments. You need a good hook, so the recipient is interested enough to continue reading.
Research the Company
It’s vital that you know about the company you’re applying to. It can be frustrating when job hunting having to research every company you apply for, but it’s a crucial step. Hiring managers will know if you’ve just taken a generic cover letter and changed a few bits to try and force it to sound like you’ve written it fresh for their eyes. It’s better to take your time writing a new, specifically tailored cover letter for each role than trying to send out generic cover letters that won’t get noticed.
Research the company’s values and ethos and mention how they align with your own, and how you feel you would be an excellent fit for their company due to your shared passions. Make sure you read the job description thoroughly and refer to it frequently when you’re crafting the letter. This will demonstrate that you know what you’re applying for.
Include the Right Experience
Not all your experience is going to be relevant for every role. That brief stint you had doing a paper round when you were 13? Unless you’re applying for a journalism role and you’re using it as a nice anecdote to demonstrate your passion for news, it’s best to leave it out.
Go through each of the desired and required experience points in the job description and include how your experience meets each of them. Keep it concise but include as much as you can that’s relevant to the job. Don’t forget to throw in some stats which illustrate how you had a measurable impact on your previous employment.
Remember, you don’t have to have worked in a specific field to have relevant experience. Almost all jobs help build more general skills like time management, teamwork, and independence, so include less relevant jobs if you don’t have anything directly relating to the job role and explain how your skills are transferrable.
Showcase Specific Skills
The job description will include a list of required and desired skills, so make sure you include yours. This is where you can bulk out the cover letter if you have little to no work experience. Use any skills you developed during your university time while undertaking your studies, such as leadership skills if you were part of a society or sports exec, or teamwork when you had to undertake a group project.
Make sure the skills stay relevant to the job. It’s great to have hobbies like playing an instrument or reading books, but maybe save those tidbits for when you have the job and are telling your co-workers more about yourself. A cover letter is to show off things relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Once you’ve got your first draft out, it’s time to edit it and edit it well. As a rule, a cover letter should only be one page, as most employers will want a short and sweet introduction that they can read in less than a minute. Your draft is likely to be much longer, so comb it over and find places where you can reduce the word count by making it more concise.
Finish strong with an emphasis on why you would be a great fit and how passionate you are about the company’s mission. Ensure you check very carefully for spelling and grammatical errors, and maybe have a family member or friend give it a look over with fresh eyes. Or you could contact your university’s careers services and have someone there take a look to get some professional feedback.
We hope this advice helps you secure that dream job. If you’re not quite on the cusp of graduating and are still going to be in Lancaster next academic year, then feel free to take a look at our fantastic range of student accommodation in Lancaster on our website. Contact us today for more information.