Once you are ready to take your career to the next level, it’s important to know how to effectively promote yourself. There are three main steps in achieve your career goals – your CV, a customised cover letter and the interview.
In the first of Selmar’s three part series on career advancement, here are some tips to help you create a winning cover letter.
A cover letter should provide your prospective employer with insight into whether you are the right candidate for the role. Your cover letter is about introducing yourself and addressing the selection criteria in the advert.
Some employers start with a CV, while others read your cover letter first. Either way, the two should speak to one another. A cover letter should be concise (no more than two pages) and aim to capture the reader within a few seconds.
A good cover letter should not replicate your CV. It should be unique to the role and clearly address the selection criteria. This means using the key words from the essential and desired criteria listed on the advert and showing how you are competent in these areas. It’s a good idea to give examples from other jobs you have done, rather than just writing that you meet the criteria.
For example, instead of just stating “I am capable of managing staff” go with “I have been a manager for four years at Top Notch Aged Care Facility, where I managed seven staff. My responsibilities included organising rosters, performance reviews and upskilling my staff via Selmar Aged Care Institute.”
Once you have the bulk of your cover letter written, remember the following tips:
- Ensure you have read the employers instructions on the advert – have they asked for a specific number of pages for a cover letter? Do they want you to address each selection criteria specifically?
- Address your cover letter to the contact person listed on the advert, if there is one. Your cover letter can include the recipient’s name, title, company name and contact details on the top left hand side of the page.
- Include your own name and contact details in case the letter is separated from the CV.
- Write the name of the position in the first paragraph and include where you saw the advertisement. For example, “I am interested in applying for the position of Manager for Aged Care advertised in the Leader Newspaper.”
- Research the company online to find out about their aims, vision and current work. You can then look for similarities in your own skills and experience to highlight shared ambitions and goals in your cover letter.
- Emphasis the skills you can bring to the role
- Use the same font as your CV and choose one that is easy to read and in size 11 or 12 – not too big or too small. Use a single font throughout your cover letter and avoid using bold, italics or underlines.
- Check and check again before you send to ensure you have the correct job title, company details and no spelling or grammatical errors. Even better, ask someone else to check it for you. A single mistake can be all it takes to put you out of the running.
- Stay tuned for more interview tips next month in our three-part series; mastering the interview.