Recently an in-house recruiter for a multinational FMCG company said to me "I remember my best cover letter as having bullets which directly addressed the job requirements – easy to read, to the point and you can’t really escape from the fact that he had exactly the skills being asked for!" So following our conversation, I thought I would give you a quick recipe for the dream covering letter and see if recruiters have any tweaks they would like to make to my recipe! 

Step 1: First, identify why you want to work for the company - but not something bland like 'well-known or international'! Give them a compelling reason and demonstrate you have done your home work. Perhaps you have found out they are expanding in a specific area you are interested in, or you have done your research by meeting people who work with or for the company. Ideally this would go beyond what you can find on websites and show you are really doing your due diligence to make sure this is the right company for you.

Step 2: List in brief bullet points what the company is looking for and then mirror in bullet points how you meet these requirements. Ideally this should be experience they have asked for, as trying to match against competencies such as 'ability to lead' is hard to evidence. At this stage you are just trying to get into the interview pile and evidence of competencies like that will be gathered at interview.

Step 3: Don't sign off in a desperate or sycophantic way - be confident, be interested in how you can add value and seek to have an adult conversation about your contribution. No one likes desperate. State clearly when you will follow up if it's a speculative application (and make sure you do). Leave only one message on a answer machine but try to ring early or late in the day when the gate keeper has gone home and you've got a better chance of getting straight through to the decision maker.

I have read so many wordy, long covering letters in the past which were bland and uninteresting; adding nothing to, and sometimes damaging, the application. If you follow these steps then you will increase your changes of writing a good covering letter.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this - especially if you're a recruiter!

Image provided by Gingiber