Cover Letter Checklist

You’ve written and proofread your CV, and now it’s time to write a personal cover letter that gets the hiring manager’s attention.

A cover letter (usually a covering email) is a document that goes along your CV and forms part of your job application. But why is it so important? Writing a personalised cover letter gives you the chance to introduce yourself to the hiring manager and make them think about your application. In fact, an application with a cover letter is always stronger than one without. This is especially true for jobs in the creative industry, where promoting yourself is everything. So, we decided to put together this cover letter checklist to guide you and help you check all the cover letter requirements.

Make sure you include:

Your personal details: your cover letter should contain your full name, address, phone number, email address, and useful links (e.g. LinkedIn profile, portfolio). Your details must be consistent with your CV and follow similar formatting, font and style.

Hiring Manager’s details: you should always address the Hiring Manager by name, if it’s not provided, make a call and find out who it is. It adds a personal touch and can make the difference between being called for an interview or being declined right there and then. So next time, address your cover note to the right person.

Job title and reference number if there is one: make sure to include the job title and, if applicable, the job reference. The company you’re applying to might be advertising various roles at various levels, so it is always important to distinguish between the jobs.

Opening sentence: include a brief opening sentence to introduce yourself. Capture the reader’s attention by adding a powerful opening statement. This will highlight your expertise and why you are a great fit for the position.

Company research: show that you’ve done your homework. Include short information about your reasons for applying with THIS company and for THIS position. You can consider things like company values, work culture, clients, and company statistics or results. Or simply explaining it has always been your dream to work with them.

Your experience: include details of your most relevant experiences. Read the job description again and identify some of the key skills the company is looking for. Demonstrate you are a strong match by incorporating those key skills. Mention how they relate to your previous work experiences. Give clear examples – do not simply repeat your CV.

Specific questions: answer the Hiring Manager’s questions. If the job description asks you to answer any specific questions such as “how would you deal with this situation?” make sure to include your answers in the cover letter.

Structure your answers: use the STAR method to provide examples. The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method allows you to highlight particular skills and qualities clearly and concisely. But you should also remember to show your personality.

Include your personality: show who you are. While it’s important to use the company’s tone of voice when writing your answers, make sure to be yourself. With this in mind, you will stand out from the competition and make a positive impression.

Use bullet points: break the text down. Break your answers down to deliver your message to the reader quickly. If you have one long block of text, include a couple of bullet points to make it more interactive and interesting. After all, you want to catch your reader’s attention…

Closing paragraph: thank the reader and reiterate your interest. Thank the Hiring Manager for taking the time to read through your cover letter. It shows appreciation. Make sure to also express your interest in the role again and demonstrate you are eager to start.

Identify the next steps: follow up with the employer. Explain how you can be best reached and when you can follow up for a possible interview.

Sign off: add your signature. End the cover letter with a formal closing. Use ‘yours sincerely’ or “best wishes” when you have addressed the hiring manager by their name. And ‘yours faithfully’ when you did not know their name (but this should be avoided, find out their name!)

Other things to consider:

Formatting: be consistent. Consistency is key when you are applying for a job in the creative industry. Try and match your CV format, including any special fonts, colours, and designs. This will show that you are conscious of your representation and that you can adhere to brand guidelines (even if they are your own).

Length: pay attention to it. Ideally, your cover letter should not be over one A4 page long or between 350-400 words. If you have gone over that – try to paraphrase and use some bullet points to cut back on the length.

Spacing up your cover letter: it depends. Your cover letter should not be double-spaced. Keep it tight and single-space your letter. Of course, if you have used a special design in your CV, then your cover letter should match that formatting. It should be consistent with your CV, even if it means not single-spacing it.

Spelling and grammatical errors: proofread it! From the moment the Hiring Manager opens that cover letter to the first time they meet you, you’ll be assessed. Make a positive impression and proofread your cover letter. You can also ask a friend or a family member. Roles in the creative industry need great spelling, grammar and punctuation, fact!

Action words: be the storyteller that you are. Describe your experience as you would tell a story. You are entering a creative profession, so that would be expected of you. Use action verbs and words to highlight your accomplishments within your previous role(s).

But also:

Don’t assume: say it as it is. Don’t assume the reader knows all abbreviations related to your field. Explain technical language or language used in your previous role that might not be clear to all. Use abbreviations only when you have explained the meaning of the word.

Numbers and statistics: visualise your competencies. Did you manage the marketing budget in your previous role, or did you increase the marketing ROI by 25% in just two months? See the difference? Mentioning numbers and statistics in your cover letter will present tangible results to the Hiring Manager.

File format: choose between a PDF or a DOCX file. The most accessible file formats by employers are PDFs and DOCXs. Alternatively, you can also write a covering email, in which case you do not need to save your file. Add a subject line, preferably with your full name, the job title of the role, and the reference number.

You are now completely ready to send in your application and start preparing for your interview! 

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