The winning cover letter sandwich template
Write a cover letter that will get you interviews
Cover letters are the make or break of job applications. They set you up for constant rejection or a continuous stream of interview invites. Which are you getting?
Writing a cover letter is actually very easy. You just need to have a winning cover letter template. If you don’t have one, use mine. It is tried and tested. It delivers results. Just yesterday, I had an interview preparation coaching session with a client who had been shortlisted for three roles that week. Prior to using my method, they had only received rejection or silence.
I call my template the cover letter sandwich.
Before I share instructions and top tips on how to write winning cover letters, I want to answer a common question I am asked, ‘Should I send a cover letter if I’m not asked to?’
Absolutely. If you are applying directly to the company, yes, yes, yes.
My answer comes from what hiring managers have said themselves…‘We have had over 150 applications on LinkedIn and 20 on our website. I am going to start by reviewing those who have applied via our website and have also included a cover letter. It is these candidates that are more likely to genuinely want to work here.’
TOP TIP: If there isn’t a designated space to upload a cover letter via an online application, then include it as part of your CV document.
So what is my winning cover letter sandwich template? It’s simple.
THE BREAD = THE COMPANY
THE FILLING = YOU
Let me demonstrate what I mean by sharing a cover letter I would write, if applying for a job as a career coach.
TOP SLICE OF BREAD – why you want to work for the company.
Do your research. Don’t just repeat what you have seen on the front page of the organisation’s website. You want to make the hiring manager think, ‘How do they know that?’
- Look at what is being said about the company by going to Google and doing a search under news feeds.
- Review their social media feeds
- Read company reviews and customer comments on websites such as Trustpilot
- Do some competitor analysis
- Speak with people who already work there
- If applicable, speak with users of the product or service to get their perspective
TOP SLICE OF BREAD – paragraph example:
I know from personal experience as a career changer, as well as the people I have worked with who have reskilled or upskilled into digital careers that it takes courage, time, and significant cost to retrain. One of the main things that hold career changers back is fear they won’t get a job at the end. In this regard, I have always felt that [your company] is outstanding in the job search best practice resources you provide on YouTube which are targeted towards any career changer. This demonstrates your commitment to democratising access to roles in tech. In fact, when speaking with [name], a former UX Design student, they shared it was your inclusive resources that made them choose you as a learning provider rather than your competitor [company name] because they only provide XYZ. This commitment to skilling the nation [<<company slogan] has to be one of the reasons that you were able to secure XYZ in funding at a time when tech funding, globally, is down significantly.
Top Tip: Go through the job description and highlight key phases and buzz words. Then include them in your cover letter, crossing them off as you go. I have included them in bold in my example winning cover letter.
SANDWICH FILLING – 3 OR 4 examples of how you match key core competencies
Now you need to show them that you can deliver what they want and need. Go through the job description and see what the core competencies are. A core competency includes abilities and behaviours as well as the knowledge that is fundamental to the use of a skill.
Demonstrate your value by giving examples of how you have done what they require. Following the STAR method is best practice here. In essence, the STAR method means bringing into each of your examples what the situation was, the task you did, the action you took, and what the result was. Where possible also include metrics.
Use a paragraph for each core competency you want to showcase.
SANDWICH FILLING – Paragraph example:
As well as working with clients on individual career planning, career development, and job search, I collaborate with colleagues to host webinars, across multiple time zones, on CV best practices as well as interview preparation. One key interview question that I have noticed many clients need coaching on is how to answer the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question. The answer to this question can set the candidate up to land or if it doesn’t go well can leave them feeling on the backfoot. As a result, when working at [Company name], I initiated conversations with hiring managers to ask them what they would like to hear from candidates from this question. I then proactively arranged weekly drop-in group coaching sessions to enable clients to form and practice answers following the insights given. To enable clients to frame their answers, I listen to their stories and then help them bring out three key points to demonstrate strengths, motivation, and company fit. As a result, many have increased confidence in job interviews and XYZ % have landed new roles.
Top Tip: If you are using a transferrable skill from a non-related field, make sure you then loop your example back around to explain how this experience can be used within the role and company that you are applying to.
BOTTOM SLICE OF BREAD – a values or personality match between you and the company.
The final paragraph is your lasting impression. It is vital you finish your letter well. This is your chance to fully mesh yourself with the organisation by talking about company values and your favourite, or you can pick key personality traits being looked for and show how you are a match.
BOTTOM SLICE OF BREAD – paragraph example:
It is music to my ears to hear you say, ‘You’ll never hear us say the words: That’s how we’ve always done things!’ [company slogan] In line with your value, Everyone Counts, I like to spot gaps and proactively put things in place to deliver outstanding career support. For example, when I started in my current role, I noticed quite a few of the Muslim female students didn’t have a photo on their social media profiles. This left me wondering if this was resulting in them not being shortlisted for some roles. Whilst some companies do train recruiting staff in unconscious bias, others have openly said they won’t shortlist a candidate who doesn’t have a photo on LinkedIn as it makes their profile look unfinished. Knowing after speaking with some students that the lack of a photo was due to religious reasons, I approached a hiring manager and a recruiter to ask them their thoughts so we could find a positive solution. The consensus was to have an avatar in place of a photo that represents the person and their personality. I asked the Muslim female students if they would be happy with this and all those that responded said yes. This suggestion has been built into career resources as well as the online job search course.
So, to sum up.
When you take a bite of a sandwich everything mixes together in your mouth – the bread and filling – and it tastes delicious. That is what you need to do throughout each paragraph in your cover letter. Mesh who you are and what you bring with what the company wants and needs.
When you do this and follow the winning cover letter sandwich template you will clearly demonstrate that this isn’t just a job for you but that you are definitely someone they need to invite to interview😊
Get cover letter help
Jenny Butter is an Accredited Master Coach and is the founder of Epiphany Career & Life Coaching.
She has significant experience helping clients, senior leaders to recent graduates, to land a right-fit role.
If you would like some help refining your cover letter to make sure you are getting interviews, then get in touch.