toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

November 17, 2006

write winning cover letters

Cilla is 24, still living at home, and is a graduate job hunter. She has learned the hard way that qualifications do not open doors and that real education starts in earnest when we start looking for a job.

Cilla has learned that having insufficient information in a CV and attaching it to a scratchy cover letter is just as bad as giving away more information than any employer wants to know.

"More is not better," says Cilla, "and less is not better either. The trick is to be appropriate."

"You can always make up for a scratchy CV with an appropriate cover letter," says Cilla, "but you can never make up for a scratchy cover letter with an appropriate CV."

"When I started job hunting I put all my effort into writing a great CV," laughs Cilla, "and didn't pay much attention to the cover letters. In e-mail, I just attached my CV to a brief note. Everyone does this, but after sending out 100s of CVs without a response I started to get wise."

The first thing employers see is our cover letters!

"Too many employers receive job applications with a cover letter that merely states: 'Please find attached my CV'," says Cilla. "That's how I used to apply for jobs. Now I take a lot of care with cover letters and it's getting me results. I've been to three interviews already."

"Do you really think any employer is going to be fired with enthusiasm by a brief cover letter?" asks Cilla. "No matter how great your CV, it is just not going to be read. It will be put into the trash with the hundreds of other similar applications received."

An appropriate cover letter covers all the criteria requested in the job advertisement, and does so succinctly.

"If a job advertisement wants someone who can do X, Y and Z then don't just respond by writing 'I can do X, Y and Z'," says Cilla. "You need to give examples of your ability to do the work."

"Also, if you can do X and Y but have never done Z then do not allow this to put you off," adds Cilla. "The employer is often more interested in your ability and enthusiasm than your actual experience."

"However, if you can do X but you have never done Y and Z then you are pushing your luck in applying for this job," says Cilla. "There's nothing wrong with enthusing about your ability to learn Y and Z, but you must be realistic about someone with better skills being chosen for an interview ahead of you. I don't waste my time and the employer's time by applying for jobs I have no chance of getting."

"With cover letters, as well as CVs," says Cilla, "I always remember to be concise and make sure that what I say in my cover letter is matched by what I say in my CV."

"With a word processor there is no great difficulty in changing a CV to suit a job," says Cilla. "I know it's convenient to send the same old CV for every job you apply for, but everyone does that and it's the gal who goes to the trouble of matching her CV to her cover letter that is going to get noticed."

"I noticed the difference as soon as I started writing good cover letters," says Cilla. "I got an interview straight away. I didn't get the job, but every interview I attend is getting me closer."

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