Writing the Perfect Startup Job Cover Letter

So you’ve found your dream startup job ad (obviously on Work in Startups, since we’ve got the biggest selection of UK startup jobs!)

Your CV is all set and you’re ready to apply. But there’s the option to add a cover letter – what the hell do you do?

Surely it’s not worth bothering as the hiring manager just won’t read it, right? WRONG! There’s been plenty of research into this area and most reports (like this one) suggest about 50% of employers more than give a toss – they actually see it as the second-most important thing (behind a tweaked CV) to making you stand out from the crowd. Employers at smaller companies (AKA tech startups!) are even more likely to read them, as they’re going to be even fussier about who they bring onboard. So, why be on the back foot from the start – get something down if you’re serious about a career in growth, even if it’s brief!

Obviously, a downright bad cover letter won’t do you any favours. Jobs in startups are competitive, and they certainly aren’t going to be given out to broken English, terrible spelling or hilarious mistakes. But, if you can follow these 6 really simple tips / building blocks, then your job application’s far more likely to get the attention it deserves. It won’t take up unnecessary hours of preparation – we promise!

  1. Address the message specifically to the hiring manager or startup founder(s) if you can find them in the ad / on the website, or to the company team if you can’t. “Dear Steve” or “Dear Adzuna Team” is going to get their attention (and show that you give a stuff!)
  2. Tell them what you’re applying for and where you saw the role – set the whole tone of the letter up front. “I’m writing to apply for the Customer Success Executive role which I saw on WorkInStartups“. EASY
  3. Say why you think the startup product or company mission is exciting, and therefore why you applied. That’s right – do some research and then prioritise them first! It’s like being on a date, you just sound arrogant if you talk about yourself straight away. And feel free to mention a referral, someone you met from their team at a startup event, or something you saw about them in the news – again, show that you CARE and show some PASSION. “I came across Adzuna’s mission to help match people to better, more fulfilling jobs and keep Britain working, and it really struck a chord with me. The tech behind ValueMyCV also really impressed me and I saw your team won the ‘Best Public Sector Project’ award at the National Technology Awards 2019 last month – it feels like a really exciting time to join!
  4. Then drop in a bit about yourself and your GENUINE, RELEVANT experience in a nutshell (name-drop some startup experience or cool tech company stints if you have them of course!) It’s also a good time to explain any career breaks or moves you want to make, in a succinct manner, and state why you’re the best candidate for this role. Don’t get too cocky and put them off of course, but this is your chance to sell yourself! How would you summarise your profile in 1-2 sentences? “I think I’d be a great fit for this role as I’m passionate about customer success, having spent the last 2 years in the Ops team at Company X honing my people skills. I actually started my career in design, but realised it wasn’t for me as I much prefer solving problems for ambitious clients, and I’m keen to keen learning!
  5. Close it up POLITELY and leave your availability / contact details. Makes it much easier than them having to lift your email or phone number from the CV. “I’d love to discuss this role and my application in more detail with you at your convenience. You can reach me on steve@workinstartups.com or 07710 123456. I look forward to hearing from you. Best, Steve.” Again, EASY
  6. Keep the whole thing brief! They’re busy running a startup! Nobody wants to read more than 100-200 words of job application, and you want to save some ammo for the interviews, so keep it punchy

Then you can grab a cup of tea, pat yourself on the back, and reward yourself for a job well done knowing that you put your best startup foot forward. And then crack on with the next application – after all, it’s a competitive market and you’ll increase your chances if you apply for a few while you’re in the groove.

Of course, this is just a simple guide to getting a quick startup cover letter done. The style definitely won’t suit everyone’s character (nor every startup role), and obviously the more time and thought you can put into each one, the better you’ll feel about it. But there really should be no excuse for not including a clear and concise message like this.
Any comments, let us know!

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Asha Mary Joseph
Asha Mary Joseph
4 years ago