The Ultimate Guide for Winner Cover Letters

Ever feel lost when trying to write a cover letter?

Every time you send one off, you feel that you could have done something differently.

You may have mastered the art of writing a resume, but cover letters are an entirely different beast.


Are CVs Still Relevant?

(4) flickr-Roger BakkerEverything is online, so cover letters aren’t worth your time? Yes, and no. Your online profiles are the go-to source today, where 93% of recruiters sift through your online profiles searching for job candidates (source).

Still, when you send a resume without a cover letter, some employers simply won’t read your resume. They don’t think it’s worth their time, without having a professional CV attached.



Here is a guideline to follow, that points to what to focus on when writing cover letters.


Blueprint of Cover Letters

Templates are great starting points. But they should only remain starting points. Use cover letter examples to suss out what sort of structure your CV should resemble. Each industry and job role have specific rules, both written and unspoken on how to structure your CV.

Want clarity? Look up online, on LinkedIn, and ask your friends. Find cover letter examples specific to your desired industry and job role, and use that as a start. Create a cover letter sample that you can use as a starting point.

As a general guide, don’t be too wordy. Academics are expected to have CVs that outline their achievements, almost a short book.

For most industries, 100-140 words is the consensus. 83% of CVs are read under a minute (source). Getting straight to the point will win you brownie points. Saving time, and being short and concise are what employers want.


Elements of Cover Letters

You don’t need to have your name, job title and reference number on top. Unless specifically directed, this is something you should avoid. You will come off as inexperienced. They already know who you are and the job title.

Here are a few guidelines in areas that CVs need to cover.


Art of Flattery

Praise the company in a professional matter. Use terms and phrases that the business or employer would use when talking companies. It will tell them you know how to act professionally.


Show Your Numbers

Crunching numbers is something employers love to see. Provide specific numbers, achievements, and bottom line figures and tell just how you achieved those numbers. But don’t sound like a calculator. Tell a story of how you reached those goals.

“Leading a team of 12, I was in charge of a project to increase sales targets by 2.5%. I utilised a client specific social media campaign. We had problems, but my team pulled through. We hit the target early, two months ahead of schedule, and overshot by 5%.”


Let Forth Your Creativity

Don’t shy away from being creative. A poem may be over the top, but let a bit of your creative side shine through.

Being too professional will give you as much personality as a block of wood. Give them some breathing space.

Here is what you should aim for when writing a cover letter.


Be Yourself

You have to stand out, and the best way to do that is by giving a glimpse of who you are, in how you uniquely structure your CV. Use quotes, or mottoes that you live by, followed by examples.

“Details and dates are my mottoes”. Having over five years of general office administration, I know what happens when these two areas get ignored. Meeting room bookings clash, managers get meetings with clients mixed up, and overall the bottom line is affected. I have a reputation for upholding these two areas religiously, and …”


Another way to reveal yourself is through anecdotes of non-work experience and skills.

Provide anecdotes and examples of where you utilised transferable skills of interest. Often, these skills may be in areas outside of work, and transferable here is merely the ability to give examples of when you used these skills. Convey passion in what you thought, or believed to be important, in your examples, and push forward key values and experiences that resonated with you. Authenticity shines through when you are ‘actually’ being truthful about your passions and beliefs.

“Bookkeeping and administrating all the transactions at X helped me understand the value of clarity, for business transactions. It is not about distrust, but transparency, and for the fundraisers, I cleared their name that was smeared by finding out simple clerical mistakes made on a particular spreadsheet. Detail and money often go hand in hand, where…”


Aim for being as accurate as possible. Open strong, and specifically target the job, your experience, and a reason you are passionate and fit for the role. Start strong and finish strong, and always do your research, to personalise your cover letter.

Key Tip: Look up online who will read your CV. Search, or call up the organisation for their details. Personalising with a name is powerful.

Another way of being specific to what the job entails is by thematically planning your CV by targeting the core skills of the role using specific examples that highlight the way you used these skills proficiently.

Regardless of how you go about it, don’t sound distant. Write as if you are conversing with whoever is reading your CV.


Ask for it

Just asking for an interview does you wonders. It points to your genuine interest in the job. And if you did your research, asking with a name attached will make it a request.

“Project Manager Dean Markus, I will be waiting for the opportunity to talk with you further, and to address any critical areas you would like clarified. I can be contacted on ….”


What do you think?

How do you plan cover letters? What is your favourite tactic when writing cover letters?

Please share your insight and stories in the comments below.

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