I recently mentioned to a client that applying for jobs could be deemed a full-time job in itself. If you do it right. Let me talk about the Cover Letter.
Firstly, let’s talk about what a Cover Letter is NOT.
A Cover Letter is not:
- a generic letter that you can use for every job
- a three page document outlining how you meet every aspect of the job
- your CV duplicated
- your personal history and details
Not sure what difference there is to your CV? Check out our article here. Each and every job you apply for deserves the time spent considering what the Employer is wanting from you.
Take the time to scan the advertisement, research the Employer and identify where you can stand out.
There are some basic rules that you should apply when writing your Cover Letter. These are:
- Address the Letter to the person in the advertisement. If you don’t have a name, then I would suggest To the Recruiter, or To the Hiring Manager.
- Try and stay clear of the boring opening paragraphs. We are trying to tempt them to read further, not fall asleep.
- Check your spelling, structure and grammar.
Once you have the basics you can start the process of analysing the advertisement. Most job advertisements formats are identical. (However, recruiters are becoming less conventional in an attempt to attract candidates).
Most ads will have a blurb about the Company, what the position will involve, what the Company is wanting in their ideal candidate and how to respond.
Consider some of the key words or phrases that may be plugged into that ATS software. Let’s use an example to show some of the words that may stand out when you are reviewing an advertisement.
I have identified only some of the words and phrases from a quick scan, that may be important to the Employer.
Try and include some of these phrases or key words in your Cover Letter AND your Curriculum Vitae, so that you can get through the ATS scanner.
The advertisement then goes on to mention what essential skills you need to have. You need to address these items in your Cover Letter and where possible, go into detail about how you have proven your capability. You can do this by highlighting accomplishments or providing background around your former roles.
Take your time to find out about the Company. Why do you want to work for them? What sets this position apart from all the other jobs you have applied for and where do you see yourself adding value?
Research their website, their social media and read news articles featuring their work. Not only will this help you to craft your letter, but you may resonate with a part of what you read and it will help you should they respond with an impromptu phone interview.
Don’t be afraid to subtly let the recruiter know you have done your research. You might include key words from their mission or make comment about a recent article in the local newspaper.
Don’t be daunted by the proposition of fine-tuning your Cover Letter. Once you have written the first one, the rest will come with greater ease. Take your time, plot the process and have fun selling yourself!