Covering letters are sadly a dying art. They’re either too long, so I won’t read them; so curt, as to be rude in the extreme; or too short – meaning there’s no relevant information. Furthermore, method’s of applying for jobs are so cripplingly automated these days, that the opportunty to think about a clear, concise and relevant covering letter to your CV submission is almost discouraged by job boards, ATS based application systems, and those that want to turn `Apply With LinkedIn` as the standard form of application.
Hear this frome me: Applying for a job should NOT be a fast-food process. Automation in job application is bad, and does nothing for the individual strength of your application.
Sad to say though, that I very, very rarely see what I would perceive to be a great cover letter – and I see 50+ applications per day.
So, the first step in writing a good covering letter, is to choose the right format to apply.
Some say Email is dead? Well it’s not. It’s the perfect format to apply for a job from your own portal, with your own lay out, and attaching documents and portfolios.
Some say the CV is dead? Well it’s not. It’s the perfect format to best display your individuality, written and layout skills; your credibility; and stands you apart from the competition.
So now we’re using the right format – now decide what to write in the covering email.
Well, start with the job description, or advert content. If the employer has written it in their advert, then it’s important in the filtering process, and therefore is important in your application process. Don’t apply for a job as a Social Media Manager with the opening line, `I am a fantastic Secretary`. Find 3 to 5 key factors about your experience and suitability in relation to that content, and they will make up 3 to 5 key bullet points in your covering note. We’ll come to those in a minute.
The opening line is important, and match the tone of your application, to the tone of the company for whom you are applying. Either way though, sound respectful, but immediately interesting. The opening line should be a short paragraph of not much more than 2 lines, and should include:
- your interest in the role – i.e. recognise the name of the role
- your interest in the company – with proof, i.e. I’ve been looking at your website…
- an introduction to suitability – “and due to my experience in … I believe I would be perfect for the role.
The Bullet Points will then follow. These are the key indicators as to why someone will open your CV. They match the key requirements role, the industry of the company for who you are applying, and the individuality of your own application. The reason for bullet points? – well rather like your CV, it breaks key pointers into almost highlighted status, visually, and breaks the monotony of long paragraphs with hidden gems.
The Close should come now. No waffling required. The close should re-iterate your interest, suitability and suggest availability to be considered for interview, and the opportunity to discuss if necessary. Again, be warm, appraochable and welcoming.
So the format will look something like this:
Note the use of highlighted text to demonstate mirroring technique. These are in a sense `buzzwords` that I have assumed would be evident within the job description or advert. Mirroring those words with highlighting quickly demonstrates relevance. The covering letter only ever talks specific interest and suitability to the role. If it’s not relevant, don’t put it in.
I hope this has helped. I’ll hope to do more practical job-seeker tips as time allows over the coming weeks. Certainly, I would love to see more great covering letters out there. Your written skills will be more pertinent than ever, so make sure you get the front cover looking sharp.