WHEN you find a job opening you have been hoping for, there’s often an urge to submit an application as fast as possible. Don’t make that mistake.
Instead, a wiser approach would be to take your time and ensure you are presenting yourself in the best way possible. This includes preparing a standout cover lever.
People often think it’s their CV that will grab the attention of a hiring manager, but the cover letter is actually your sales pitch. This is where you get to tell your story and make people sit up and take notice.
Writing a cover letter can be a challenging task, however. If you have been applying for several jobs without success, you may have some standard cover letters lying around. The temptation may be to simply reuse one of these and just make a couple of minor changes, such as updating the company name and position title. Doing this is not only lazy, but hiring managers are normally quick to identify a template cover letter, and most likely will toss it in the rubbish bin.
Rushing your cover letter will likely do you more harm than good. Instead, make sure to tailor your letter for each position you apply for.
Remember to do some research on the company and take the time to write briefly about why you are interested in working for them specifically – make it clear you understand the company.
If you discover that they are facing some challenges, or have specific aims or targets over the next three to five years, address those in your letter with examples of how your experience and knowledge could help them achieve those ambitions.
Also important to keep in mind is that while your education is a major consideration for recruiters, they are more concerned about your work experience. Talk about the work you have done, and how it benefited you employer. If you’re a university graduate, your employment experience will likely be limited, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shine. If you have done volunteer work or an internship, be sure to highlight these – both demonstrate that you have initiative.
Your cover letter should also address the skills that you can bring to the company. Employers can hire any number of candidates, but what they really want is someone who brings added value, someone who can help push the company forward. If you are applying for a specific role, it’s critical that you understand the criteria and address that in your cover letter, showing clearly how your specific talents and experience match their requirements. If you have relevant, prior experience, or anything unique that may make you stand out, then include it.
You need to also use the opportunity to show some of your personality. But be sure to find the right balance between showing your passion and enthusiasm and being too formal – and avoid any over-the-top language.
A couple of additional final tips: don’t simply repeat your CV in your cover letter – each must stand alone; avoid a cover letter that is too long, try and keep it to one page, maximum. And make sure you edit and check the letter several times before submitting it – a tiny spelling or grammatical error could be the difference between being offered an interview and your application being discarded.
This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.