Cover Letters and Love Letters

by Feb 17, 2017

Cover letters and love letters have more in common then you may think.

I hear many people in the recruitment industry argue that the cover letter is now ‘dead’.  Having worked in the industry, I can understand why some might agree with that statement. A typical recruiter’s day is spent looking at hundreds of resumes, the last thing they want to do is open up another stock standard cover letter.

However, when I came across a cover letter that was written more like a love letter, the candidate absolutely stood out to me from the hundreds of applications I received each week.

As a recruiter, I would spend about 20 seconds scanning an applicant’s resume – if I was not entirely sold from their resume, I would then open their cover letter in hopes that it convinced me they were worth calling for an interview.

I’m not suggesting that you should literally pursue an employer like a potential romantic life partner; however, I believe if you keep in mind the basics of a love letter and apply these elements to your cover letter, I’m confident your application will stand out. Most cover letters I’ve seen look identical. I can almost predict that the candidate will spend the majority of their cover letter talking about them, rather than the employer. They simply regurgitate their resume into paragraph form.

What is the purpose of the Cover Letter?

  1. To state why you are the best candidate for the role
  2. To state what you will bring to the role/team/company
  3. To state why you are interested in this role/team/company

If you only talk about yourself and your experience in your cover letter, you don’t do any of the above 3 points.

That’s why I think you should take a ‘love letter’ approach to your cover letter. Because if you do, I guarantee you will meet the basic requirements of a cover letter. So what components of a love letter are important to put in your cover letter?

The basics:

Why are you interested?

What makes them special? More special than any other employer in your sights…

What makes you the best match for them?

What are you going to contribute to the relationship?

How to adapt the basics of a love letter to your cover letter:

Why are you interested?

Your cover letter should mention why you are interested in the role you are applying for.

Look at the job description or position description if you have one.

Pick at least 1-3 things that stand out to you and spark your interest in this specific job above any other job you’ve seen advertised. Tell them in the cover letter, I’m interested in this role because it has X, X and X.

This shows you’ve read the job advertisement, you understand the scope of work and are confident you want the role. Companies want candidates who can do the job, but what makes it even better is when the candidate really wants the role! It’s not just about being confident you can do the job, it’s about showing you are enthusiastic about it. That tells the employer you are going to jump in and hit the ground running with energy and a positive attitude.

What makes them special?

Your cover letter should talk about why you are most interested in this particular employer/company/team. Tell them what makes them stand out to you more than any other employer in your sights…

Is it their values? Their culture? The leadership team? Their offering or product? Their vision for growth?

Tell them in the cover letter. This is another chance to prove you’ve done your homework on the company.

What makes you the best match for them?

Again, print out the job advertisement or position description if you have it. Look at the qualifications listed, both soft skills and technical skills. Soft skills are things like: motivated, enthusiastic, organised, can-do attitude, energetic, dedicated, driven etc. Highlight any of the skills and requirements you meet on the job advert. Pick your top 3 and make sure you list those particular skills and experiences as what makes you the best match for the role. You don’t need to list every single thing you’ve done in your cover letter, that’s what the resume is for. This is your chance to highlight your most relevant skills and experiences for the specific role you are applying for.

What are you going to contribute to the relationship?

Look at the day-to-day responsibilities listed in the position description or job advert. What specific duties are you excited about doing and contributing to the company. Do you see any areas outside the scope of work listed where you feel you can add value? Don’t be afraid to tell them your ideas or passion to contribute in the cover letter if you are confident it is aligned with the role and brand values.

Featured image courtesy of Pexels.


By Steph Miller

By Steph Miller

Alumni Career Coach

Steph Miller is an experienced recruitment professional and the Alumni Career Coach in UTS Careers. She helps alumni meet career goals through career facilitation and recruitment guidance one-on-one providing resume development, personal branding, networking, negotiation and interviewing techniques while staying up on the most recent career trends.