Is it time to look for a new job? Make sure your cover letter is as professional as possible! Here are some hints which we often offer to our applicants when giving feedback about their cover letters.
Things to consider in your cover letter!
Targeting the application. Always either write a new cover letter or at least edit the old application when applying for a new job. If you send the same letter for many open positions the recruiters will notice that immediately. And are not going to be pleased. In an application you should always answer the requirements of a job advertisement. Therefore describe you have the required skills, not just some skills in general. Show that you are interested in the position you apply for, not just in any job. If you apply for marketing position but mostly tell about your bookkeeping skills the recruiter is going to assume the position is not your cup of tea.
The recruiter doesn’t know you. Often employers are looking for a ‘good guy’. Therefore describe what kind of personality and working style you have. What do you enjoy at work, what is important to you and what motivates you? Remember, there are no right and wrong answers on this one! Being honest is the best thing to do. Introducing your personality is a great way to stand out from the other candidates.
Justifying skills. Do you share the feeling that everyone says “I get along well with others” and that eventually it almost means nothing? When describing yourself “proactive”, “organized” or “flexible” please justify it with concrete examples from your previous jobs or studies. Otherwise a recruiter might think you just ended up using socially acceptable terms which don’t necessarily describe you as person. Likewise, if a certain language knowledge is important for the job convince the recruiter by telling where or how you gained the skill.
Justifying motivation. Surprisingly many job seekers forget to tell a) why they want the job or even b) that they want the job. It is extremely important to describe why you are interested in the position and the industry and why you want to work for the company in question. It is not enough to say “I am motivated”. (Once again, it means nothing!) What motivates you and why do you want to work with the responsibilities offered?
Avoid overlapping. Try to avoid telling things twice. When you already introduced your education in your CV there is no need to use space for sentences such as “I recently graduated from University of Helsinki and my major was economics”. The same rule applies to your responsibilities in your previous positions. Instead, concentrate on what you have achieved and learnt. You can refer to your studies as an example of something but avoid telling about details which are already presented. A recruiter expects to learn something new about you!
What would a recruiter think? Consider if there is something in your experience or condition which might make a recruiter doubt. If you always had your hands on finance and now you apply for an IT project manager position the first question to raise is “why”. Certainly you might have changed your mind about your interests and career plan. Still, if you never tell about the decision a recruiter might think you are just sending applications a bit of here and there. The same goes with applying for a full-time work when you are still studying. Indicate that you have thought about the issue and tell how or why you can make those two fit into your schedule.
Your current situation. It is also a good idea to make clear what your current situation regarding a new job is. Is your current work contract fixed-term? When could you begin with a new job? Are you going to be on holidays for the next two weeks? When is the best time to reach you? To make communications and other practical aspects as smooth as possible mention the special conditions you have.
Length and form. An ideal application letter is usually a bit less than one page long. In one page there is enough space to tell a lot of relevant details about you and an overview is still compact. For the sake of a pleasant exterior it is recommended to send the files in PDF form. Read-only forms are also a good option in that sense that no one can edit them by accident.
I hope my tips gave you some new thoughts for how to write an application. If there was nothing new to learn your current cover letter is most likely in a very good shape already. Good luck for job hunting!