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27-11-2013 3:59:19

Learn the Lost Art of the Covering Letter

Tom Pammenter|Industry, Job News

 

A good covering letter makes your CV stand out.

In marketing terms (you are, in effect, marketing yourself), it is your first opportunity for conversion. That is to say, you want to convert your reader from prospective employer to employer. Its job: to persuade the recruiter to give you an interview.

The first thing your letter needs to do is convey CONFIDENCE. This is, after all, the key to life. With it, you can do anything, without it, you’re stuffed.

And it follows that if your prospective employer doesn’t have confidence in you having read your letter, they won’t decide to spend a portion of their most precious commodity (ie, their time) discussing their potential employment of you.

You need to stand out – it’s clichéd but true. A confident letter will position you well.

Three simple ways to convey confidence in your covering letter:

 

1. Don’t try too hard – it’s not a matter of life or death. You want an interview, of course, but if you appear desperate to reassure, you appear desperate. Radiate a sense that you want the job rather than need the job.

2. Prove that you’re dependable – by showing them where and how you’ve been dependable in the past. Your previous work and experience should encourage your prospective employer to trust you in the future.

3. Use tone and language that convey strength – your letter must suggest that you’re on an equal footing with your prospective employer when it comes to solving their staffing problem. You have something to offer them (ie, you!) so tailor your message accordingly and simply (simplicity inspires confidence).

Make your covering letter work for you. Do these things:

**Research the company. Use wording from the ad to help you write and focus on your reader’s wants. You have to please him or her, not yourself. To do this effectively…

**Find out the name of the recruiter and address your cover letter to him or her. This makes it more personal and shows you’ve used your initiative.

**Highlight the job you’re applying for at the top of the letter. This will:

  • Keep your writing focused
  • Demonstrate your awareness of the job itself –you might be going for a number of positions but your reader’s focus is on this one

  • Help your reader file it correctly – they may be recruiting for more than one position

**State why you’re applying for the role and your relevant skills. Show your understanding of the recruiting company and what the job entails. Demonstrate your hunger. Why are you the ideal candidate?

**Be prepared to put the work in to make your letter concise and to the point. It’s easier to write a long letter than a short one because editing takes effort. Say what you want to say but respect your reader’s time. One side of A4 and no more.

**Make an effort to be interesting. People like people like them.

**Don’t rely on your spell-checker. Always check your spelling and grammar manually before sending any correspondence. If you don’t do this, and errors remain, the bin beckons.

**Are you available now? Do you have to work three months’ notice at your current job? Make your prospective employer aware.

**Sounds obvious but make sure you have correctly stated your home address, email address and phone number.

**What do you want to happen next? Do you want to sit back and wait for the call (I look forward to hearing from you) or will you follow up by phone in a few days? Sign off by telling them how you want to proceed.

Ways to really make your covering letter stand out…

  1. Have something to say – and say it!
  2. Use proper punctuation.
  3. Sign off appropriately (Yours sincerely if you’ve addressed the reader by name; Yours faithfully if you haven’t).

 

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