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How To Win The Cover Letter Game

Writing a cover letter for job applications can often feel like a game of Russian roulette. You put a lot of effort and time into crafting the perfect letter. But you never really know if it will hit the mark with the hiring manager.

Play a Successful Cover Letter Game

Not knowing if your cover letter is on the mark or not can make the process feel frustrating and unpredictable. This can leave you feeling like you’re taking a gamble every time you apply for a new job.

However, writing a winning cover letter shouldn’t feel like a game of chance. By following some best practices and understanding what employers are looking for, you can increase your chances of getting noticed and landing an interview.

The Cover Letter Goal: Impress the Hiring Manager

Writing cover letters is part of a job application game with various steps and strategies involved to play it successfully. The objective is to impress the hiring manager and stand out among other applicants to be placed in the lead.

If you’re new to job seeking, be sure to check out our advice for first-timers. We’ve also prepared advice and a range of cover letter templates for people at different stages of their careers.

Play this Cover Letter Game Strategy

Adopt this strategy to write the most competitive cover letter:

  1. Cover Letter Preparation: Research the company and position to understand their needs and tailor the letter to their specific requirements.
  2. Opening: Make a strong first impression with a captivating introduction that showcases your enthusiasm for the position.
  3. Cover Letter Body: Highlighting your relevant skills, experiences, and achievements that make you a strong fit for the role.
  4. Closing: Concluding with a strong statement of your interest in the position and next steps to follow up.
  5. Editing: Revising and proofreading to ensure the letter is error-free and presents you in the best light possible.

Each step requires careful consideration and attention to detail, making writing cover letters a rewarding and challenging game to play. The reward for a successful cover letter is getting an invitation for an interview and advancing in the job search process.

Tips To Play The Cover Letter Game

Your Cover Letter Must Be Tailored to the Job

Your cover letter must be tailored to the specific job you’re applying for. Generic cover letters that don’t speak to the needs of the employer or the requirements of the job are unlikely to make an impact. Instead, you should research the company and the role, and use that information to highlight your skills and experiences that are relevant to the job.

Keep your cover letter concise and focused.

Hiring managers often have to sift through dozens or even hundreds of applications, so they don’t have time to read long, rambling letters. Keep your letter to one page and make sure every sentence counts.

A great cover letter is meaningful and relevant to the opportunity you’re applying for and will help create a good impression. You don’t have to write much, you just need to clearly communicate your points so you can progress in the labour market. Communicate clearly so they see you as an organised person who plans and checks. Make sure there are no spelling errors and never lie to seal a deal.

Beat Cover Letter Game Challenges

  1. Most employers receive dozens or even hundreds of cover letters for each job opening, so it can be challenging to make yours stand out.
  2. On average, recruiters spend only about six seconds scanning each cover letter, so it’s crucial to make a good impression quickly.
  3. Many applicants make the mistake of using generic cover letters that don’t address the specific job requirements or show why they’re a good fit for the company.
  4. Some job seekers make spelling and grammar mistakes in their cover letters, which can create a negative impression with employers.
  5. Research shows that up to 50% of job applicants don’t bother to include a cover letter at all, even when it’s required.
  6. Employers report that they’re turned off by cover letters that are overly long, contain irrelevant information, or are written in a disorganized or confusing manner.
  7. Some applicants make the mistake of using a one-size-fits-all approach to cover letters, rather than customizing each one to the specific job and company.
  8. Research has shown that up to 70% of employers say that they have rejected candidates based on their cover letter alone.
  9. Some applicants make the mistake of focusing too much on their own needs and qualifications, rather than addressing how they can contribute to the company’s goals and mission.
  10. Finally, some job seekers make the mistake of coming across as too aggressive or arrogant in their cover letters, which can create a negative impression with employers.

Be Tactical With Your Cover Letter

Recruitment is like a game of chess. Calculate each move you make, if you don’t have a strategy you become part of someone else’s strategy. Only say what’s important to recruiters and potential employers. Use your cover letter to control THEIR perceptions of you. The system is mean and will make you suffer.  Don’t provide information that could wreck your chances. If they don’t ask, it’s not your problem.

When you’re asked personal questions that you think are inappropriate, note them down along with your responses. If you don’t get the job, go to the Equity Court and state why you believe you were treated unfairly during the recruitment process.

Play the Cover Letter Game To Win

  1. A well-crafted cover letter can increase your chances of getting an interview. According to a survey by Jobvite, 26% of recruiters said that a well-written cover letter improved a candidate’s chances of getting hired.
  2. A customized cover letter that demonstrates your knowledge of the company and the job requirements can impress recruiters. In fact, 56% of recruiters say that they are more impressed by a candidate who has taken the time to customize their application materials, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.
  3. A cover letter can provide additional context and information that is not included in your resume. In a survey by Robert Half, 91% of hiring managers said that a cover letter is valuable in evaluating job candidates.
  4. A well-written cover letter can showcase your communication and writing skills. According to a survey by The Creative Group, 78% of executives said that writing skills are important for marketing and creative professionals.
  5. A cover letter can demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and the company. In a survey by Glassdoor, 45% of hiring managers said that a lack of enthusiasm or interest was a common reason for rejecting a candidate.

Position yourself in the Cover Letter game

Always try to position yourself favourably and with honesty. Even if you don’t have everything they are looking for, make them want to meet you.

You proceed through the first round of the game by submitting a correctly compiled application, your updated CV that is relevant to the opportunity advertised and a short, interesting cover letter spelling out why you’d be a great candidate.

Failure to do so, means you’ll be removed from the game, no call nor note yoh!

We said to be honest. But don’t volunteer information that could count against you. Play the game.

Don’t tell them what you don’t have! Focus on what’s for sure!

In short, while there are no guarantees in the job search process, writing a cover letter doesn’t have to be a game of Russian roulette. By tailoring your letter to the job, keeping it focused and concise, and taking the time to proofread carefully, you can increase your chances of making a positive impression and landing the job of your dreams.


Cover Letter Examples

Writing a Cover Letter for an Experienced Job Applicant

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I am writing to apply for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name], as advertised on [Job Board/Company Website]. With my [years/months] of experience in [relevant sector/industry] and my passion for [specific skills or interests], I am confident that I am the ideal candidate for the role.

In my current position as [Current Job Title] at [Current Company], I have gained extensive experience in [key responsibilities or achievements related to the job]. I have also developed strong [relevant skills] which will enable me to excel in the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. Additionally, I am well-versed in [relevant software, tools or industry-specific knowledge] and can quickly adapt to new technology or processes.

As a [positive personal attribute], I am committed to [relevant values, goals or mission statement of the company]. I am excited about the opportunity to work with [specific project, product or team] at [Company Name] and contribute to the success of the company.

Cover Letter Example for an Inexperienced but Committed Job Applicant

For inexperienced job applicants, the template can be adapted to highlight relevant skills or achievements from education, internships, volunteer work or extracurricular activities. For example:

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I am writing to apply for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name], as advertised on [Job Board/Company Website]. Although I am a recent graduate with limited work experience, I am confident that my [relevant skills or achievements from education, internships, volunteer work or extracurricular activities] make me a strong candidate for the role.

During my studies at [University/College], I gained valuable experience in [key coursework or projects related to the job]. I also [relevant skills or achievements from internships, volunteer work or extracurricular activities]. I am eager to apply my skills and knowledge to the [Job Title] position at [Company Name] and learn from the talented professionals at the company.

As a [positive personal attribute], I am committed to [relevant values, goals or mission statement of the company]. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the success of [specific project, product or team] at [Company Name].

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss how I can contribute to [Company Name] in the [Job Title] position.


[Your Name]

More Cover Letter tools for you to use

Copy from our templates and adapt the text to suit your needs.

Don’t forget to proofread your letter carefully for errors in grammar and spelling. Even small mistakes can make a negative impression on the hiring manager and harm your chances of getting an interview.

Cover Letter Templates

Try the advice provided in our articles and use each job opportunity as one that you must compete HARD for.

Each article listed has information about cover letters or some aspect of recruitment. No matter which field you want to work or study in, you can construct your killer cover letter by following Keep Climbing advice.

The article below is really useful if you need help finding the correct words to use for your cover letter:

Power Words for Your Cover Letter, CV and LinkedIn Profile


Many adverts withhold pay, even stipend information as it gives recruiters a negotiation advantage, allowing them to see who will accept low offers.


Apply to ads disclosing pay information.

If you are applying to an ad that doesn’t disclose pay information, you only need a short cover letter listing your qualifications (Matric, G10 etc.) and experience if you have any.

When you see an ad that discloses pay information, make an effort even if you think the pay is low. Organisations that are open about what they offer are more likely to treat you fairly when you work for them.

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