“Yes” can be the unconscious reaction from the first moment the recruiter scans your CV cover letter. The cover letter that you send with your CV is the ideal place to distinguish yourself above other candidates.
Cover letter quality
Intelligent people pick up not just what your words are trying to say but a lot of intuitive information from the style, tone, rhythm and quality of the writing itself. They sense when you are desperate but trying to conceal it. They know if you don’t really understand the job on offer but are just attracted by the salary. Experienced recruiters may believe they are matching you against a list of skills in the job definition but they are also using their inner eye, which can be influenced…
The tragedy is that 90% of people who could be right for any given job generally spoil their application by sending in boring, casual, jokey, aggressive, cautious, greedy, grammatically weak and downright feeble letters.
If the CV cover letter is not highly relevant to the job they advertised it will go straight in the trash. If you write something that slavishly analyzes every single point in the job description it looks like you are too stupid to summarize. Your mission is to pitch skillfully between the two extremes and it isn’t easy. You need a basic template that can easily be adjusted and you’d be wise to work on both cover letter and CV before the perfect job appears…
Cover letter content
A great CV cover letter is basically five statements of this general type:
Here I am and I largely match what you want…
… this is the summary of my expertise that proves my claim
here are some real achievement highlights to reinforce my case; they show…
… the kind of contribution I plan to make out of my combination of vision and ability, possibly delivering even more than you were looking for
I’m grateful for your time and would like to discuss this further and get more detailed information and feedback from you
Of course, you would not write them just bald like I have; you will change and vary the way you approach each section, using the most elegant language you can muster.
Each statement gets one fairly brief paragraph so the whole letter fits comfortably on one page. At this stage, everything is about impact, not the detail you have in your CV. Do not start repeating all that in the letter.
Take a professional distance
The people you are trying to influence have power over your future, so this is not the place for screaming about your achievements and making big demands. The time to negotiate your pay and conditions is when they have already offered you the job.
Modest folks may find the whole business of CV and cover letter writing a real challenge because they naturally avoid ‘blowing their own trumpet”, but when your career becomes complex, even you have to start ‘selling” yourself.
Work at it, getting help from friends and family. What sounds too strong today may be fine when you read it again next month. Absorb these things into your skillset, so it feels natural, so the tone that a reader picks up about you is of someone effortlessly professional, an equal that they would probably enjoy talking to.
Eureka! You made their day. You delivered a solution where the others posed questions, doubts and problems. You go through to the next round.