The 5 ‘S’ rules for writing a killer cover letter

Looking for a job can be time-consuming and sometimes a bit frustrating. It can be daunting to know that you applied for your dream job last week… but so did 300 other candidates! What’s the key to success?


After submitting many job applications, some that don’t even get an answer, it can be tempting to start sending general cover letters or stop sending them at all. “Why bother,” you ask yourself, “I’m sure no one’s going to read it anyway.”

That’s your first mistake!

Cover letters are actually crucial for recruiters. According to a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 30% of small organisations and 20% of all private recruiters consider it a mistake to not send a cover letter. In fact, a cover letter gives you the chance to introduce yourself and make your experience shine. With so much competition, you don’t want to miss out on any opportunity!

Here are 5 tips that will help you write a killer cover letter. We’ve called them the 5 ‘S’ rules, as they’ll help to make you ‘Stand out’:

Make sure you address these questions and break down the text into several paragraphs. First of all, let them know who you are and why you’re applying for the job, then outline your relevant skills and experience (making sure they’re consistent with your CV) and round up your letter in the final paragraph.

  1. Shakespeare got it right in the 17th century, when he said: “brevity is the soul of wit”. Forget long paragraphs and keep your cover letter to a page without unnecessary details. Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter and think about what they’d like to read.
  2. Always make reference to the specific job offer. Address the skills required in the job description point by point and how you match them. Don’t use generic sentences and show you’ve spent time and effort writing your cover letter. If possible try to find the right contact person’s email address to send your cover letter to, it will definitely pay off!
  3. Structure and selling points. The same study by the SHRM found that the three most important aspects of a cover letter for recruiters are:

– How the candidate’s work experience meets the job requirements

– How the candidate’s skills meet the job requirements

– Why the candidate wants the job

  1. Showing enthusiasm. Sometimes we wonder how creative a cover letter can be. Remember that it’s a formal piece of text, but also your first contact with the employer. Don’t be afraid to show your passion and let your unique personality shine!
  2. Last but not least, spelling is crucial. It seems a very basic point, but spelling or grammar mistakes can be a deal breaker and prevent you from getting an interview. It can be a good idea to have somebody else read your cover letter, particularly if you’re not writing in your native language. Printing the cover letter and checking it before sending can also help.

What are you waiting for? Start using the 5 ‘S’ rules during your job search and shine!