Cover letters are essential whether you are applying for a job via email, post or an Internet job-posting site like Monster. It’s likely to be the first contact you have with your prospective employer, so you need to give it a lot of thought. You need it to:
1. Create a good first impression.
2. Interest the reader in your CV, resume or application form.
3. Motivate them to invite you to an interview.
You’ve probably realised that this isn’t as easy as it sounds!
Firstly, the competition is fierce. On average there are 30 to 50 applicants for every job posting, and less than half of the applications submitted are even opened by employers.
Secondly, you don’t have much time to impress your reader. The average person spends less than 30 seconds reading any sort of business letter. Recruiters are busy people, and faced with a heap of deadlines and an overflowing inbox, they aren’t suddenly going to switch gears to pore over your life story, no matter how engagingly it’s written.
Thirdly, unless you’re changing jobs frequently, selling your unique combination of knowledge, skills and general all-round wonderfulness probably isn’t something you have to do every day. If your job search is a result of losing a position, you may not be feeling so all-round wonderful, either.
So you’re going to need some pretty heavy-duty writing skills to pull this challenge off.
I’ve sat on both sides of the recruitment desk and I’ve picked up some really useful tricks to make the process, if not simple, then at least a lot less painful.
Follow the links below for tips, samples and templates to help you get going on that perfect application, and with a bit of luck, your perfect job!
There must be an easier way!
Like most people, I loathe job hunting, and writing the cover letter is number one on my list of pet hates. Why? Because not getting it right can blow your chances of getting the interview. That’s daunting, even for a professional writer!
If you’ve been applying for jobs without success, there’s a very high chance it has nothing to do with your qualifications, experience or the format of your resume. It’s most likely to be your cover letter.
If you aren’t confident that it’s doing the job, quit agonising and get some help. Chances are your competition has already.
One option is to hire the services of a professional resume writing service. Prices vary enormously, but the cheapest are often just glorified typing services, so it’s worth investing as much as you can afford. Expect to spend some time discussing your needs with an advisor on the phone with this option.
A cheaper but very effective alternative is to download a software program, such as OneClick Cover Letter Creator. This is well respected, based on solid research, and enables you to produce powerful, proven letters without having to write anything. I think that at less than $30 it’s very good value, as it takes all the pain, angst and uncertainty out of crafting your own. Click here for more details.
If you’re feeling restless but really don’t know what to do next, I really recommend Grace Owen’s book The Career Itch. Grace is a very experienced career consultant I met when working on a series of webinars. She was so inspiring I bought her book. I often recommend it now to people who are unhappy in their work because it is packed with real-life case studies, practical advice and action steps. Life’s too short to stay in a job that makes you miserable, so if this is you, do yourself a favor and buy this book.
Whatever you decide, good luck with your job hunting – come back and let me know how you get on!