A CV should always be accompanied by a covering letter. A covering letter gives your CV context, it frames your CV and if well written is a powerful accompaniment. It’s not necessarily the absolute content of a covering letter gives it weight; it’s the ‘feel’ of it. By sharing the clear impression that you know exactly what you are applying for, why you are applying for it and that you have taken the time and trouble to get beneath the skin of the vacancy, you are effectively indicating that your application should be taken seriously. Call it intuition, call it reading between the lines, it doesn’t take an experienced recruitment manager long to spot someone who’s only chasing the dollar, out of their depth or simply deluded.
The name of the game when writing your covering letter is to apply the appropriate ‘pitch’. The tone, emphasis and style that tell the employer that you have the brains, experience and emotional intelligence to not only understand what is on offer job wise, but that you know what response wise. Exhibit your empathy clearly. Many applicants who might in the final analysis be perfect candidates for a particular job shoot themselves in the foot. They include mis-directed covering letters, too jokey, too dry, too tangential, that simply fail to either (literally) read the job description properly or to read between the lines for what’s needed in applying for it.
Every covering letter MUST be focused specifically on the application it relates. Modifying an easily adjustable template, especially if you are applying for many positions can prevent you making too much unnecessary work for yourself.
A well-written covering letter will create an aura, set a scene, help establish a relationship. It’s not a platform for bellowing out your successes, pay demands or your ambitions – you can do that (subtly) in the CV itself. A covering letter is there to engage and sow the seeds of genuine interest. You need to share five important pieces of information using language that will entice your reader to take the next step and proceed to reading the full CV.
Tell your prospective employer that you are largely equipped for the job in the application. Prove the claim with some evidence showing expertise. Reinforce the claim with information relating to real successes. How do you plan to make your contribution count? What can you add to the position? Express that you look forward to feedback on your CV and the opportunity of discussing the vacancy in greater detail.
Don’t leave it at that. Show your covering letter to friends and family. Reflect on any comments and if necessary absorb them into it the piece.
Writing positively about yourself can prove difficult to even the most positive of people. Remember though, that by making your covering letter positive and professional you are giving yourself a great chance of competing. Natural, well-mannered letters that show a clear understanding of the environment that you and your prospective employer share are an important step in landing the job you want.
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