Monday, June 10, 2013

Job Search: How to write cover letter

Your covering letter of application is the first of three documents used during the job search process. Many applicants underestimate the power of a well-written covering letter, presuming the recruiter will only focus their attention on the resume. In today's working environment, a recruiter's workload has increased dramatically by having to complete a higher number of recruiting assignments and screen an increasing number of applicants. The bottom line is that the recruiter is a very busy person, under constant pressure to complete assignments within a standard time frame. This is where the power of a well-written covering letter has effect. It is the first document a recruiter will read and it is here you must sell yourself and convince the recruiter to look further. You must convince the recruiter that your resume is worth their valuable time to read. It is your personal statement, an invitation to look further.

How to structure a covering letter
  • Your letter must not exceed one page.
  • Keep your letter simple and ensure your paragraphs and sentences are short and concise.
  • Use bullet points to highlight key achievements and accountabilities.
  • Ensure your achievements and accountabilities address the key selection criteria.
  • Avoid using phrases that give the impression you are not positive.
  • Don't oversell yourself and try to reflect balanced thinking.
  • Review and redraft your letter until you are confident with it.
  • Check for spelling mistakes and ensure it is correctly addressed.
  • Use good quality stationary and prepare your letter on a word package. Ensure it is printed on a good quality printer.
  • Your introduction should be your strongest selling point, referring to your greatest achievement.
  • Ask for a personal meeting as opposed to an interview as your concluding statement.

Here are some tips
  • Don't use colour stationary, it may give the impression you are overselling.
  • Address the letter to the person responsible for the recruiting assignment. If the advertisement does not state their name, ring and find out.
  • Your strongest selling points must reflect the key selection criteria
  • Don't mention you are unemployed or have been made redundant. It may reduce your chances of being interviewed.
  • Don't state the obvious when writing your letter: e.g. please find my resume enclosed or I am applying for the position of..


Sample Covering Letter



Re: Human Resources Officer ( e-mail subject )

I have 10 years broad experience in human resources of which the last 5 years have been in an employee relations role, predominantly in the manufacturing and retail industries.

My accomplishments and abilities include the following:

  • Developed and implemented a national personnel policy and procedure manual including health and safety and worker's compensation manuals.
  • Managed the occupational health and safety and worker's compensation functions nationally.
  • Providing service and advice on day-to-day employee relations, policy and procedures to employees and line management.
  • Developed and implemented a National Federal Agreement and prepared a draft Head Office Administrative Employees Agreement.
  • Experienced in targeted selection techniques, recruitment and selection.
  • Experienced in HR systems including excel and word.
  • I hold a Bachelor of Business in Personnel and Industrial Relations.
  • I also wish to highlight my skills in assessing training needs and developing self-paced competency based training.

My personal qualities consist of working as an effective team member and as an internal consultant. I work well under pressure, possess good organizational skills, and have the capacity to work on many projects simultaneously. I also have well developed written and interpersonal skills.

I look forward to hearing from you, and to the opportunity to meet personally.

Yours sincerely,


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