A Jobseeker’s New Year’s Resolutions – Part 2
Sam Wilson, January 8, 2014
2. Re-write your cover letter.
A cover letter can be as important as your CV in the application process but is often overlooked. Your CV and cover letter should be seen as a package and both require proper attention and effort. They should also work together and cover the same points. Your cover letter is an opportunity to add meat to the bones of your CV, a chance to expand on the points you’ve made and really emphasise your skills and experience.
Too often people think that the cover letter that they’ve used for years will be fine for the new position that they’re applying for, all they need to do is add in some new information about their most recent position. This is a big mistake! Cover letters written this way can become difficult to read due to a lack of cohesive direction. Re-writing your letter from scratch allows you to ensure that your points are clear and the person reading can easily understand how they relate to the vacancy.
Tell me why
As well as relating past experiences to the position you are applying for, your cover letter is an opportunity to explain choices that you have made in the past. This might include gaps in employment or career changes. This is also an opportunity to relate your degree or other qualifications to the vacancy you are applying for. It is a common occurrence for people to enter careers that are not necessarily immediately connected to the qualifications that they have gained. Your cover letter allows you to relate skills or knowledge gained during these qualifications to the vacant position and explain how the experience will help you in the role.
Heard it all before
You may well be ‘hard-working’, ‘a team player’ and a ‘dedicated individual’ but take a moment and think how many times your prospective employer has read these phrases whilst sifting through the pile of application forms they have in front of them. Wherever possible avoid overused clichés especially if you can’t immediately relate them to some experience that you have. Your cover letter is your opportunity to stand out, so make sure that you do. If you are going to use these phrases make sure that they are prefaced by an example for instance ‘in this role I was required to work as part of a large team which allowed me to develop my communication skills and my ability to work well with others’.
Make it snappy
It’s wise too keep your cover letter short and sweet, preferably one side of A4. If your cover letter is too long the only thing that it will achieve is ensuring that it goes straight in the bin. Think about what the role requires and only include details that are relevant to that role. All the person reading your letter wants to read about are skills and experience directly related to the vacancy that they want to fill. Don’t make that information hard to find because many will not bother trying. Keep it short and to the point.
Show me what you got
An ability to write well is a skill that many employers place in high regard and can be very hard to find. The vacant position may not require much writing however it is always a good skill to have. The comprehensive communication of information is necessary across a wide variety of jobs and all sectors. Your cover letter is an opportunity to show off your writing skills and impress your potential future employer. For this reason it’s important to take your time with your cover letter, re-read it a couple of times and give it to a friend or family member and make sure that it reads well.
Another important consideration, if you are emailing your CV and cover letter make sure the email is worded and addressed appropriately. All your hard work will be wasted if the person receiving doesn’t want to read it. Address the person reading it, highlight what is enclosed and end with “Regards”, your full name and contact details. A large number of people won’t open the attachments unless the above criteria are met.
Don’t make that potentially crucial mistake and overlook the importance of a cover letter. Take some time to really look at it along with the jobs you are looking at and craft something that will help you rather than hinder your chances.
Part 3 (Making Your Social Media profiles 'employer friendly') will be released next Tuesday (14th January)