5 tips to write a rock star cover letter

By Amanda Cortens | Campus Recruitment Coordinator

As a recruiter I often see amazing resumes. These resumes have been reviewed, edited and polished more than the average term paper. This level of care is invested as resumes are often a one-size-fits-all document that is used again and again. But what about the other required piece in a job application? Yea, you know the one; the cover letter.

The cover letter is more important than you may realize. Recruiters and hiring managers use the cover letter to pull specific information and indicators of performance from the one-pager. A well written cover letter not only draws parallels between a candidate’s prior experience and the requirements of the role, but demonstrates enthusiasm and provides a shining example of the candidate’s communication and business writing skills.

Overwhelmed? Don’t be! Here are my top 5 tips for crafting a cover letter that is sure to get you noticed:

  1. Make it unique: You need to write a separate cover letter for each role you apply for. Each job posting will ask for different experiences or skills and the cover letter needs to match. The body of the cover letter cannot be recycled from application to application.
  2. Elaborate (but not too much): A cover letter is not a word-for-word reiteration of your resume. A successful cover letter highlights key points of your resume (related to the position) and provides details to support the qualification on your resume. This is your chance to expand on your metrics, explain how you were successful in that business pitch and managed the roll-out. Give examples and provide context, but don’t go overboard! Keep it engaging, simple and succinct.
  3. Don’t be shy: A cover letter is the perfect medium to brag about your qualifications and successes. This is your time to shine. Do it!
  4. Be honest: If a job you are interested in requires experience with software or a methodology that you are not fully competent with, don’t try to hide it. Instead, embrace the skill gap and use the cover letter as an opportunity to explain why this will not be hurdle to your success. Have a game plan and your honesty will be rewarded. 
  5. Keep it professional: Remember that the cover letter is the first piece of business writing that you are submitting to your future boss. Put your best foot forward so you can be proud of the “work” that you are submitting.

A strong cover letter will provide the hiring team with a balanced and honest snapshot to your skills, experience and aptitude for the role. Following these five tips will ensure you feel confident when you click “apply now”.

Amanda is a campus recruitment coordinator in for Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. She recruits CPA summer students, co-ops and new graduates for our Audit, Tax, ERS and FA service lines. In addition to recruitment, Amanda oversees student programs for her region. Connect with her on twitter.

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