A cover letter is the perfect space for you to explain to recruiters why you are the right fit for the job – however, attempting to “stand out” can often have the opposite consequences! We talked to some recruitment professionals to identify the key ways in which your cover letter can get you shortlisted for your dream job! (without being too try-hard)

Nail the Basics

You need to ensure that your email is addressed directly to the recruiter/hiring manager. If you aren’t aware of their name, make the extra effort to find out (Thank God for Google!) – trust us, it will pay off!

Be concise. It’s a cover letter, not a cover thesis. Don’t let this exceed a single A4 sheet – that’s stretching it already. If you haven’t managed to reel in the recruiter in the first 100 words, it’s unlikely you’ll succeed in the next 900.

Demonstrate Interest

Show the recruiter that you are excited about this job. Demonstrate your eagerness, your passion. Research the company, its culture, its work. Give a compelling reason about why you would fit those researched parameters – link them to your previous experience to conclusively wrap your argument. Show that you understand their unique setup and how you can add value to the organisation.

Identify Keywords From the Job Description

HR gets hundreds, sometimes even thousands of applications per job opening. Their initial screening of your letter will involve a quick scan for choice keywords – you should ensure that you incorporate them to survive the first shortlisting.

Make it easier for the recruiter to identify you as a prime candidate by scanning the posted job description for keywords defining the job, the industry, the job role, and integrating them in an accessible and easy to skim manner. You’ll greatly increase your chances of making the first cut!

End on an Actionable Item

The sign-off is critical! You need to reiterate your interest in the position, while also inviting interaction from the recruiter. This could be in the form of a simple expression of interest in a follow-up conversation to further discuss your suitability for the role – make sure you don’t come off as pushy, however!


Proofread, proofread, proofread. Then get a friend to proofread for good measure. Read it out loud to make sure it’s as tight as possible. Any mistakes in grammar, punctuation or spelling and your application is as good as discarded. So, PROOFREAD.

In summary: Be brutally concise, be interested, be vigilant for mistakes in the language – if you can follow all of the above steps, you’re well on your way to getting shortlisted!

Now, about that written CV…

Also Read: 10 Tips for Job Hunting in the Digital Age