|Tips on tailoring a cover letter to a job advert
1. Define the requirements
of the job
Read the job advert carefully. You want to identify:
- Essential requirements. These may include education,
years of experience, type of experience, specific
skills or knowledge. They will be described as "essential",
"required", "must have" or "necessary".
- Preferred requirements. These may include language
or technical skills, as well as experience. They will
be described as: "preferred", "an asset"
or "an advantage".
- Inferred requirements. These will not be referred
to explicitly at all. But, by reading the advert carefully,
you can often infer the "like to have" requirements
of the recruiter. For example, if the advert describes
the company as "dynamic and fast-paced",
you can infer that they would prefer candidates who
show energy and drive.
2. Prioritise the requirements of the job
Look at the job from the recruiter's point of view
and assess which of the requirements are most important.
This will help you prioritise the skills and experience
that you put into the letter.
3. Identify your relevant experience:
Review your skills, experience, education and personal
characteristics and pull out the elements that strongly
match the requirements of the job.
These are the aspects of your experience that you should
aim to highlight in the cover letter. Any aspect of
your experience that is not directly relevant to one
of the top requirements should not be referred to in
your cover letter as it will distract the recruiter
from understanding exactly why you will be good in the
4. Add "something extra"
Although you now have the basic content from which
to structure your letter, you need to make it stand
out from those from other applicants. The best way to
do this is to personalise it. You can do this in a number
- You can illustrate your top-priority strengths with
an anecdote or story regarding past achievements.
- You can identify an issue of high relevance to the
company and demonstrate your knowledge of their business.
- You can directly relate one of your top strengths
to the challenges faced by the company.
For high impact approaches to personalisation, Click
here to read "A guide
to writing high impact cover letters" or return
to The do's of cover letter writing for more guidelines
on writing your cover letter.