Job seekers as a whole are very aware of the importance of having their resumes looking good, but often neglect to provide a covering letter, or if they do have a covering letter it is not up to scratch and often needs work on it. There is a lot of debate amongst job seekers and employers as to whether a covering letter is really necessary or not. There is also a lot of debate as to whether potential employers actually read the covering letters or not. A survey in the US of employers found the following:
- 42.9% of employers wanted job seekers to submit a cover letter for each position
- 29.8% of employers felt that a covering letter was not important
- 27.4% of employers had no preference
Regardless as to what your viewpoint is on the above, always presume that the potential recruiter is going to fall into the 42.9%, and that that they are going to expect that you provide a covering letter and that they are going to read your covering letter. For this reason make sure your covering letter is exceptional.
Covering letters are a great opportunity for you to give potential employers a very brief overview of your work experience and qualifications, as well as helping to personalize your job application. If you have the attitude that covering letters are not important and therefore neglect to submit one, or submit a cover letter that is not up to scratch in the hopes that nobody will actually read it, you risk the chance that you may miss out on a job opportunity.
It is very important in the competitive world that we live in today, where jobs are tight, especially in the mining industry, to provide a covering letter. It is important to remember that your covering letter is often the first thing that a potential employer will see before they open your resume. It is your introduction to the company, and there is also the chance that if they do not like what they see in your covering letter that they may not even get to open your resume, let alone call you in for an interview. For this reason it is very important to ensure that your covering letter contains just enough information to ensure that potential employers have gained enough information on you to have sparked their attention and what to find out more, and that they will then look at your resume.
Whilst it is important to ensure you submit a covering letter with your resume, and that it contains adequate information to spark the attention of the potential employer, ensure that you are not tempted to try to over sell yourself and fill your covering letter with too much information on your achievements and vast information on your experience. Your covering letter should be a place to touch on this information, the bulk of it should appear in the resume itself. Also don’t be overly pushy and arrogant. Saying things such as “I am the best candidate for the job” is not the way to go. Employers find this uncalled for and get irritated with this type of comment. How do you know that you are the best qualified person for the job? You don’t for sure, so instead of trying to oversell yourself, use this space to constructively show what you can do, and how it will benefit the potential employer.
When preparing your covering letter, remember to keep the following in mind:
- Don’t make your covering letter too long. Potential employers are not interested in, nor do they have time to read paragraphs and paragraphs. Keep it short – two to three paragraphs is enough
- Ensure there are no grammatical or spelling mistakes. Perfect spelling, proper punctuation and capitalization and grammar are mandatory. Also leave out all abbreviations. Remember a covering letter can be the potential employer’s opportunity to get some idea as to your writing skills, so make sure it is good. There is a good chance that if your covering letter is full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors that the recruiter is not going to take you seriously and look further, let alone want to interview you
- Ensure your contact details are updated and correct, also that they are consistent with what will be appearing in your resume
- Always date your covering letter
- If possible address your covering letter to a specific person, it helps to personalize things and shows that you have done your homework and found out who the hiring manager is
- Use the space in your covering letter wisely. A covering letter should never be longer than one page
- Relate your skills to the job. Show the employer that you have obtained the necessary skills that are appropriate for the job. Explain how your education work experience, training and achievements relate to the potential job you are applying for. Keep it brief! If possible use keywords and phrases from the job advertised which will indicate you have exactly the right experience. If your work experience is not exactly the same as what the job requires, focus on any skills that you may have that are transferrable, as well as any soft skills that would be relevant.
- A good covering letter will have no more than 2 or so body paragraphs. These should focus on why you are a qualified candidate for the position? What experience you have that fits the job required? And why you want to work for the company specifically?
- Always include a closing paragraph which expresses your desire to meet with the employer for an interview, be polite and thank them for having taken the time to review your application and include a contact number.
So remember to always ensure you submit a cover letter with your resume, and most importantly to take the time to compose an impressive letter that will professionally introduce your resume to the prospective employer, and make them want to read further and learn more about you.
First impressions do count so make sure you create a great first impression!!