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Getting Hired: The Ultimate Guide to Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

We discussed the importance of a cover letter in an earlier blog [1], so today, we’re delving into the detail as to what makes a cover letter stand out to a life sciences recruiter. By taking the time to prepare your cover letter, you will increase your chances of landing the job of your dreams, so if you are planning your next move, read on to find out more.

Beat The Bots

As with so many things in business life, elements of recruiting lend themselves well to automation. Understanding how computers process the information in your cover letter and resume can help you to write them in such a way that they pass this initial muster to land in the hands of the appropriate expert you wish to impress.

Many biotech firms will use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to initially sift candidates for their positions, so you will need to plan your cover letter to not only appeal to the hiring manager but also to satisfy the algorithms that will initially review your application. This system searches for specific keywords within the applications that are received, which it will use to determine which applicants are worthy of further consideration.

Never include vital information such as your contact details in the header section of your document as this may not be accessible to the automation, and avoid fancy templates which can become scrambled when reviewed by an ATS system. Ensure that your cover letter is saved as a Word (.doc or .docx) file to increase its chances of being recognised by the system. If you choose to use charts or diagrams to demonstrate your effectiveness in a previous role, ensure that you describe what they are showing in a keyword-heavy sentence so that should the image be lost, the impact of your experience will not be.


When you are applying for a role with early stage European biotech companies, be sure to read their adverts very carefully. They will specify the skills, qualifications and experience that are necessary. This information will form the basis of the keywords that you will present in your cover letter and resume to ensure that they are easily discovered, both by the ATS system where it is used, and by a human recruiter.

If a job advert specifies skills that you can legitimately claim to possess, make sure that you explain that you have those skills and that you give an example as to when and how often you demonstrated them. If a duration is specified for experience, for example, “five years’ experience in venture capital business case approvals”, then you must be sure to specify the number of years of experience that you have in this particular field, together with examples of firms in which you successfully pitched for funding and some guideline values of your business cases.

It is not enough to merely parrot the keywords that are listed in the advert. You need to explain why your experience not only fulfils the brief but makes you the best candidate for the role.

Clear and Concise

There is a huge amount of information that you will want to put in your cover letter, but it is important not to go overboard. Your resume will contain your work experience and qualifications, so the cover letter should merely act as an introduction, explaining concisely why you want the job and why the recruiter should want you.

One page of Arial font size 10 is typically more than enough text to include in a cover letter. This personal profile need not set new standards in innovation but it must demonstrate your attention to detail, your understanding of the role and organisation to which you are applying, and explain why you believe that you are the right fit for the position.

Where you are applying to a startup, in particular, you should explain how hiring you will help the company to thrive and develop. If you have relevant industry experience, have been instrumental in the success of another startup or participated in a major scaleup at your current organisation, this information will be considered highly pertinent and should be included.

Blow Your Own Trumpet

But don’t start an orchestra! Stick to the facts and don’t be tempted to overstate your abilities. The hiring organisation will know the level of experience usually associated with someone of your age and qualifications, so artificially enhancing your skills is unlikely to achieve the desired result. Even if you are successful at the application stage, you could come unstuck under questioning in an interview. It is always best to focus on the facts, retain your integrity and promote yourself as a genuine candidate.

Every Word Must Add Value

Every word in your cover letter must be there for a good reason. Just as you will want to add value to the hiring organisation, your cover letter must convey both your professionalism and your enthusiasm for the role, whilst maintaining readability.

Make sure you allow yourself sufficient time to write and re-read your cover letter prior to submission. Check carefully for spelling or grammatical errors and if any sentence does not add value, remove it.

In Summary

Be succinct, use keywords appropriately and tailor your cover letter to the role and the interests of the hiring organisation and you will be well on the right track for success. If you need further guidance in writing the perfect cover letter, Scalex Consulting can help. Book a consultation with one of our Life Science Recruitment Specialists today and you will immediately benefit from the support offered by our experienced team. Speak with one of our Life Science Recruitment Specialists today if you want advice on your CV and cover letter. Book a consultation.



If you found this insight interesting, we recommend reading 8 Reasons to Choose a Startup Over a Corporate Job

ScaleX Consulting offer trusted business consulting and recruitment services to life sciences and biotech companies, ready to take the next step in their journey, particularly with life science recruitment, sales and marketing.