Covering letters are the bane of many a job seeker. Not only do several of us feel uncomfortable writing them – the content is too cheesy, too sterile, too vanilla, too boring or all of the above – also, when exactly, should we submit one. My rule of thumb is, if the role specifically asks for one then yes, do submit. Otherwise, leave it out.
The secret, isn’t about whether to write one or not, it’s about making it relevant! Here are some useful tips for when you do need to write one.
- Keep it to 1 page.
- Make sure it is properly attached to your CV and the pages are numbered. You wouldn’t want 50% of your application to end up in the wrong job pile when it’s printed off from the HR department’s communal office printer. Happens more than you think! If applying via LinkedIn, then be aware that they have separate uploads.
- Also include the role’s reference number at the top of each page. Again, reduce the chances of a mishap.
- Before submitting, call the contact or department whose name is linked to the role so that you can get:
- An idea of how far down the track they already are in the recruitment process.
- Build a bit of a rapport. This helps to convert you from being just another anonymous application to standing out in the CV pile for having a familiar name and a friendly voice. Obviously, don’t hog the phone as they will be very busy people, but a simple, short and straightforward dialogue works well.
- Tailor the covering letter to the role and the company. I can’t stress this enough! It is best done by including 1-2 lines about what the company does, how this interests you personally and then end the section linking your own professional experience with the key criteria of the role. If you can’t be bothered to write one then maybe, the job doesn’t actually interest you. Don’t cannon fodder your CV everywhere! Only apply to roles that excite you!
- Include 5-6 bullet-points which highlight your suitability for the specific role. Your profile will be strengthened exponentially.
- Remind them that your CV is attached and end with a clear statement seeking a next step.
Here is an example of a covering letter for a project manager role at a technology company such as……Apple:
October X, 2017
Ref: Job X
Dear X (name of contact) /To the Hiring Manager,
It was great to speak earlier today and thank you for both your time and for letting me know that you are still open to new applications for the Project Manager vacancy.
The role is very much in line with what I am currently seeking and it would also allow me to contribute from the outset with the skills and experience that I have so far. Your company’s passion in creating amazing experiences for your customers through technological innovation is exemplary and your recent product launch of the new X (product type i.e. iphone 8) was inspiring. I also understand that the professional development of your employees is important to you. This is particularly key for me as I thrive in progressive environments and I am keen to carve out a long-term career at one organisation.
I am comfortable handling the responsibilities attached to this role having been accountable myself for a similar project when I worked at X (name of employer, ex-employer). My CV is attached on the next page and, in addition, I also include a handful of points below which highlight my experience and transferable skills.
- Senior project manager with 7 years’ experience handling multiple complex and large projects simultaneously.
- Oversaw the launch of 2 new products across Europe, Middle East and Asia. They were delivered on time, under budget and helped to expand the company’s market presence by 15% in 5 months.
- Mentored 3 new employees in past 12 months, all of whom are now key contributors to the team.
- Relied upon to take on new challenges and at ease rolling out change programmes.
- Known for having an open and affable personality and who can quickly gain buy-in from multiple parties.
It would be great to have the opportunity to discuss the role in greater detail and I look forward to hearing from you