Having the skills for a job is great, but how do you increase your chances of getting picked for an interview? The key is to not only create a good resume, but to also write up a good cover letter, especially one that best showcases your skills. To help you out, we’ll look at the purpose of a cover letter and what to include in it, as well as give you some tips on the language to use when talking about your skills in your cover letter.
What is the purpose of a cover letter and what should you include in it?
A cover letter is a single-page letter that accompanies your resume as part of a job application. Its purpose is to allow you to introduce yourself to a company, demonstrate your interest in the job vacancy, draw attention to your resume, and motivate the employer/hiring manager to interview you. The cover letter should be customised for each position you’re applying for and enhance the reader’s view of your skills, experiences, and qualifications.
Here are some of thethings to include in your cover letter:
- Your name, address, and contact details.
- The employer/hiring manager’s name, position, company name and address, and contact details.
- A formal greeting, eg ‘Dear Mr or Ms (surname of employer/hiring manager)’.
- Introduce yourself.
- Mention the job you’re applying for and why you’re passionate about the position. Also provide insights into your personality and character.
- Explain why your skills and experience make you the ideal candidate for the role and worth taking the time to interview.
- Encourage the employer/hiring manager to read your resume.
- Add a call to action, eg asking for an interview.
- Close with ‘Sincerely or Respectfully, (your full name)’ and your signature.
Tips for the language you should use when discussing your skills
1. Use keywords
Skill keywords include analysed, quantified, utilised, planned, programmed, designed, created, built, wrote, taught, and trained. Using these keywords will be more effective if you connect them to a specific role or project where they were crucial to success. For example, “I utilised quantitative stock valuation techniques to create a portfolio for high net worth clients, which beat the market for three consecutive years.”
2. Use phrases from recommendations/appraisals about you
You can describe your skills by using phrases from prior performance appraisals and letters of recommendation. For example, if an appraisal or recommendation says that you’re “organised, detail-oriented, effective, and committed to getting the job done”, and it’s related to the job you’re applying for such as an administrative assistant, you can use the phrase when describing your organisational skills in your cover letter.
3. Include the phrases used in the job advertisement that outline the skills needed for the job
An employer may use a software that scans for skill keywords and evaluates how closely cover letters match the preferred skills. So make sure toadd key phrases from the job advertisement that apply to your skills. For example, if the job requires cash handling, problem solving, organisation and communication skills, mention them in your cover letter if you have these skills.
4. Use attention-grabbing verbs and adjectives
When describing your skills,use dynamic action verbs like collaborated, motivated, managed, and analysed in order to convey your points and add an air of professionalism. You should also use attention-grabbing adjectives to add flavour and pique interest, such as fast, accurate, adaptable, dependable, flexible, creative, methodical, persistent, responsible, and tactful.
5. Make your skills specific to the job and the company
Highlight your skills as they relate to the job and the company. For example, if you’re applying for a lead toddler teacher at a childcare centre, you could write:
“I was glad to see you have an opening because I have recently finished my bachelor’s degree in primary education. However, I’d prefer to focus on preschoolers.
While attending Western College I worked part-time at the Pumpkin Patch, a day care centre near the college. During this time, I developed the teaching skills needed for working with young kids, including patience and the ability to create simple lesson plans. I was able to work well with my fellow teachers. Furthermore, I was given a temporary lead position in the pre-K section while the regular lead was on maternity leave, so I know I’m ready for the responsibilities of this role.”
6. Be clear and concise
Clearly articulate why you’re the ideal candidate for the role when discussing your skills. For example, if you’re applying for a tech job and the role requires a fast learner, you could say “I’m a quick learner who picks up new technology with great speed”. You should also talk about a skill in just a few sentences, not a few paragraphs.
7. Make it personal to yourself
Take a little extra time toshowcase your personality so the company can see why you’re a strong candidate. For example, if you’re applying for a store manager position at a video game store and communication and people skills are required, you could write:
“I was excited to see this opportunity because I have two years’ experience as an assistant manager at a Frozen Solid Yogurt Shop. The listing requirements fit my skill set perfectly. I have excellent communication and people skills and I have managed schedules and employees for two years. In addition, while in college I worked part-time at a computer and gaming console repair shop and I was on the college’s League of Legends team for three years.”
8. Use facts and figures to support your claims
Don’t just mention that you have the skills required for the job, alsouse facts and figures to support your claims. For example, If you’re applying for a sales job, describe specific sales goals that you’ve met. If it’s a management job, mention the number of people and the size of budgets that you’ve managed.
Boost your skills to improve your cover letter with Deakin’s micro-credentials
After you’ve written your cover letter, proofread it – make sure there are no spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. A cover letter that has all the essentials, displays your skills in the best possible light, and is error-free is guaranteed to land you an interview.
Before you write up your cover letter, however, you need to make sure you have the necessary skills for the job. Deakin offers a range of Professional Practice Credentials that can assist individuals in improving their skills and workplace performance.Contact us for more information.