After nearly two weeks off, it’s time to talk Cover Letters. Now I have to admit, this is my least favourite part about job applications. I get some serious cringe moments when I look back at my old cover letters, and in the interest of sparing you guys some of the same pain, I’d like to tell you not to make the same mistakes I did.
I will repeat, in case some of you weren’t listening last time, how important it is to READ THE JOB POSTING and ALWAYS tailor your application to each specific one. Yes it is time consuming and it will mean that you will be able to apply for less jobs in one day, but this is definitely a situation where quality is better than quantity. Applying for 20 different jobs and only hearing back from one is a lot more taxing and discouraging than applying for 10 and hearing back from 5.
In any case, this is one instance where there are some key format standards that should be kept, though they are few.
1. Always address the person listed on the advert as the point of contact. If no one is listed stick to the standard “To Whom it May Concern.” Starting your letter with “Hi There” will certainly make you stand out, but in the worst way possible. – You’ll find in interviews that a lot of employers are actually more casual and friendly than you might expect, but until you meet them in person it’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Always state the position for which you are applying. Do I really need to explain why? Sure, maybe the company only has one job advertisement posted and it all seems very obvious, but chances are, they don’t. Even if they do, you have no way of knowing that for certain, and you don’t want to get mixed up with the pile of P.R. rep applicants when all you want to do is graphic design.
3. Always sign off in a formal and friendly manner. Because well, you want them to remember your name and how charismatic you are, don’t you?
So there you have it. The rest is yours to play with. Again there is a platitude of resources online that can help you write your cover letter but for the love of all that is good in this world DO NOT copy a format. Use the formats available as guidelines, study the job posting, what positions can you emphasize along with your experience? What parts of your CV could use a little more explaining? Maybe your potential employer won’t understand how you obtained great organizational skills as a barista (I’ve used it – it’s worked). Maybe there is a skill you know you have that you can’t “prove” through your CV. Who are you? What do you bring to the table that is unique?
Those are all questions you should be answering in your cover letter. Now I’m not saying it’s easy. I can’t STAND trying to sell my self or explain why I’m so good at this and that. Heck, I have a hard enough time with “describe yourself” prompts every time I open a new social media account. But if even I can pull it off, I know you’ll kick ass at it.
Take the time to edit your work. Make sure there are no grammar or spelling mistakes, read it out loud to yourself or to a friend, have someone you trust look over it and give you some pointers. Your cover letter and your CV are all your future employer is going to know about you so make sure it honestly reflects the best version of yourself.
Oh, and definitely DON’T do what these people did.