Aisling offers some help to the student who’s looking to write the perfect cover letter.

Writing a great cover letter can seem like a pretty daunting task. But if you break it down and bear these seven points in mind, you’ll be able to make a good first impression next time you're on a CV spash.

1. Personalise it

Referring to a mutual contact instantly differentiates you from the candidates with no link to the employer, as well as giving you a handy ‘in’. But if you’ve no link whatsoever to the job make sure you at least include the company name in your cover letter, so they don’t think it was some cut-and-paste job that you sent out to a hundred other companies at the same time.

2. Tell a story

Don’t just put down the usual “hardworking and friendly” that employers hear spouted from every Tom, Dick and Harry applying for the job. Relate your application to some anecdote or interesting experience in your life, and you might just stand out from the crowd.

3. Use examples

Avoid only saying that you worked in Spar for a year – give concrete and specific examples of your achievements in previous employment that can extend to the job you want. If you solved a serious problem, be sure to mention it.

4. Availability

Your cover letter may be the most beautiful thing your employer has ever read, but what everyone’s looking for these days is employees who’ll be at their beck and call. If you don’t tell them how many hours you can be available for, it’s guaranteed that they’ll snap up someone who does.

5. Tailor yourself to their needs

Any job description will have clear criteria for the successful applicant. Make sure you explain just how well you embody these, using examples of occasions where you learned the specific skills or solved particular problems. But don’t just copy the requirements word-for-word – that just screams lazy, and nobody gets hired for being lazy.

6. Keep it formal

As much as you may think it’ll work to have some friendly banter with whoever’s hiring, the best cover letters are the more formal ones. After all, you’re applying for a job, not having the craic in Coppers on a Tuesday night.

7. Be unique

Despite all this, the traditional paper cover letter may not be the best way to get you the job of your dreams – or just the job that’ll pay the rent. Follow in the footsteps of Graeme Anthony, an unemployed PR practitioner, who created a YouTube video to showcase his skills. 

As well as describing his abilities and previous employment, the video itself demonstrated his video and editing knowledge. Or take hints from Adam Pachitti, who advertised himself on a billboard to get a job in media. The traditional approach won’t always get you noticed; and being noticed is often the hardest part about getting a job. Trying something totally new may just get you where you want to go.

Follow Aisling on Twitter: @aiscurtis.