How to Write a Captivating

Your cover letter is your avatar, your signature. It suggests your character and communication style, as particular and unique as your fingerprint or vocal waveform. Absent your physical presence, your cover letter is you.

The truth of these of these statements is precisely the reason why so many covering letters fall at the first hurdle: specificity. It is simply too easy to type 'sample cover letter' into your search engine of choice and then copy whatever you can find there, or perhaps download a ready-made cover letter template. Certainly this is better than nothing, but free online cover letter templates will not provide what you desire—a compelling letter of introduction that ignites employer interest in you.

Perhaps that's why you're here—you know what others do not. You are savvy to the fact that a solid covering letter will make you appear polished and professional in the eyes of the recipient. You embrace its potential to powerfully articulate your deep understanding of the target organisation whilst simultaneously communicating your eagerness to further its aims.

But this brings us to the second hurdle: How to write a cover letter that wins interviews and draws attention to your ​résumé. If templates and samples lack the personal touch that will make your covering letter stand out, how can you prepare a document that speaks directly to a particular employer's requirements with both personality and panache? The work involved is real and substantial, but the rewards will be worth the effort.

The text of your cover letter is as unique an expression of who you are as the singular tone and timbre that defines the texture of your voice. 

Free cover letter templates seem like an easy solution to a complex problem, but are no match for those which have been custom-built to the career  objective of the author and the requirements of the reader .

It's true that you can recycle certain cover letter elements (although 'I am a very self-motivated, organized individual' is best avoided), but the remainder of the text should, at a bare minimum, always make explicit reference to your:

current position;
industry sector;
significant strengths; and
unique selling points.  

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The process of creating an outstanding cover letter begins with research, and lots of it. You will need to examine the following elements as they relate to your target occupation:

 —Industry subject matter and terminology;
 —Technical/business practice innovations;
 —Recent events and their societal impact;
 —Current recruitment trends/salary scales.

The background details you acquire from this essential research will form the foundation of your cover letter, so do not skip this step!

With that initial groundwork out of the way, you must now discover as much as you can

about the employer to whom your cover letter will be sent. Find out: 

—​The nature of the organisation's business;
 —Its most high-profile customers/clientele;
 —Present developments and past history;
 —Staff requirements and mission statement.

Remember: the more you understand about your selected occupation as a whole—and your chosen organization in particular—the stronger your cover letter will be.

Individuals who submit hackneyed, non-specific cover letters immediately betray their ignorance of both. By way of proof, take a look at this uninspired cover letter excerpt: