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  7. Is Your Cover Letter Letting You Down?

Is Your Cover Letter Letting You Down?

The most common misconception about covering letters is that they get you the job. They don’t. They get you the interview. Getting yourself in front of your potential employer is key. Once you are sitting in front of them, they get to see the ‘real’ you, not the ‘on paper’ you, and you can see if the employer is the right fit for you as well.

Tough competition

In the current employment market, each time someone applies for a job they are likely to be up against huge numbers of others vying for the same position. That means something in your CV and covering letter has to make you stand out. Your CV needs to outline your skills and experience, and should read in chronological order (from present backwards) and should present factual information about your jobs and achievements.

Tough competition

In reality, recruiters will only spend a minute scanning your CV so the key words and skills required for the role must be very obvious and you should spend time reading the job description to understand what the employer is really looking for. This could mean highlighting different aspects of your skills each time.

Sales pitch

The covering letter should also be tailored to the job you are applying for. This is your real opportunity to impress, but all too often is ‘templated’ and job-seekers let themselves down by just updating the names and addresses. Instead,  your covering letter should be where you make yourself shine. It is your chance to give a little insight into yourself and should tempt the recruiter to find out more and invite you to interview.

Hire me

Formula

While each covering letter should be bespoke, there are certain elements that must be covered. Start it well. Address it to an individual by name, and that might mean doing a little bit of research. Sometimes, recruiters will deliberately omit a name from their advertisement to see if candidates are prepared to do some digging, so don’t fall at the first hurdle.

The first paragraph should only be one or two sentences long, explaining which job you are applying for and where you saw it advertised. The following paragraphs should outline why you are the best candidate for the job, address every point on the job description and what specifically you have in terms of experience that fits their requirements. Finally, explain why you want to work for the company. Again, this ought to inspire you to do some research. If you can find a quirky link or little known fact, you will catch attention.

Think like a winner

Do not waffle. Keep your letter succinct and to the point. Do not go onto a second page, however much you have to say. You are piquing interest at this stage, so you don’t want to tell everything leaving yourself nothing ‘interesting’ to say at interview.

Remember, this is a formal letter so do not use a ‘wacky’ font or coloured paper to make your letter stand out, however tempting. The content should do that. Sign off formally by thanking the interviewer for their time, and summarising your skills. Make sure you have included your contact details, and wait for the call!

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