Cover letters which are readable and concise stand out. No recruiter wants to read a rambling stream of consciousness. People love it when you show respect for their time - especially people who have hundreds of applications from job seekers to read. We’ll go through some of the major features of a cover letter that will impress. 

Before you do anything, know your stuff

It should go without saying that doing your research on the company is essential, but many still miss this vital step. By doing this, you’ll show them you haven’t just sent them a stock template - you’ve tailored your letter specifically to them. 

You should research the company, its history and its culture, and the sector at large. You should also have a thorough understanding of the job spec and how you match up to the skills required. You should also show you’ve had a look at their competitors and what makes the company you’re writing to different. Finally, as a matter of courtesy, you should do a little research on the person you’re writing to.

A good structure

Now you’ve got a thorough understanding of your recipient, it’s time to make sure your cover letter has a coherent structure and flow. It should also hit some key points:

The specific position you’re interested in

Your application might be one of many, but your letter should reflect careful decision making and attention to detail. You should explain specifically what role you want and why this is relevant and interesting to you.

Bigging up your skills

Your cover letter should be your storefront. Don’t sell yourself short. There’s no need to be too wordy, but you should briefly describe your experience and link it to the specs you’ve closely read. 

What you can do for the company 

Of course, you want to mention, as above, why it interests you, but your main point should be what you can offer the company. Just like selling your product, they want to know what you can do for them. Incidentally, you can make sure you’re really connecting with the reader by using Readable’s personalism tone slider. 

Don’t just copy and paste your CV

As we’ve established, you need to make it personal. So please don’t just reiterate the same thing you’ve said in your CV. Inevitably, there’ll be some crossover, but get creative with your rewording. 

If you use long words in your cover letter where simpler words will do, Readable will give you a suggested synonym - one click and it’s replaced. Although it may be tempting to impress the company with your diction, what they really want you to do is to stay on topic. 

Your cover letter is also, as outlined above, a great opportunity to personalize your application. This means that although you may have already listed your skills and experience in your CV, you can talk about these as long as you relate them to specific requirements in the job description. 

You also have a bit more room in your letter to tell a brief anecdote where you exhibited the relevant skills that you didn’t have room for in your CV. 

Some final notes 

There are some key things you can do to make your cover letter visually easier to read. These include subheadings, bullet points and having no more than a few sentences per paragraph. 

In addition, you’ll want to do a final check to make sure your letter is formal enough. Our tone of voice sliders can tell you where your text lies between formal and conversational - in this context, you’ll want to consistently strike a strictly formal - albeit friendly - tone.

Job searching is hard, but writing an excellent cover letter doesn’t have to be. If you have the right editing tools to hand and the right attitude for the role you want, your letter will surely catch the recruiter’s eye. Spelling and grammar are often the first things recruiters will use to narrow down applicants. So clean that up first, and then make sure you’ve got the right tone and an approachable reading level. 

Good luck!

Laura Kelly

Laura is a freelance writer and worked at Readable for a number of years. Laura is well-versed in optimising content for readability and Readable's suite of tools. She aims to write guides that help you make the most out of Readable.