Writing a cover letter can be a chore, especially when applying for a number of roles. As consultants, we know they can be difficult and often go back to candidates to help them amend ones they’ve submitted.

Knowing what to include and what to leave out can drive one to distraction. So here are a few things you need to know to make sure that your cover letter stands out:

Your CV is more important – Yes, unfortunately it’s true. However a cover letter is still helpful in determining a candidate’s values, past achievements, culture fit, as well as demonstrating their written style: all of which will help to secure that important interview.

Do the basics right – by making sure the cover letter looks tailored to the job you are applying for. Address it to the hiring manager or recruiter, insert the job title and organisation name in your opening lines. Addressing a cover letter “Dear Sir/Madam” when you have their name is a little lazy!

Include your current job duties and key achievements – when highlighting your current duties make sure you include examples of your work and your key achievements. Don’t assume that someone from your sector would know what your key responsibilities are – you could be selling yourself short. If, for example, you are responsible for raising funds or managing budgets, make sure you highlight your financial achievements clearly.

Be specific and refer to the job description – The hiring manager wants to know if you can do the job they are advertising. So be specific by addressing the role requirements and demonstrate how you can effectively carry out those duties, based on your experience.

Show your variety – your extra curricular experience, such as volunteering, can provide the hiring manager with crucial information on you as a person. This can give you the edge by showing the hiring manager/recruiter that you have a genuine passion for your line of work which could be what separates you from your competitors.

And finally…remember, cover letters should be kept simple and should be around 1-2 pages in length. That doesn’t mean skimp on addressing the job description: it means stick to the formula above. Hit those marks and you will almost certainly find yourself getting more calls from hiring manager and recruiters.