Quality CVs and Cover Letters Get Results

You have found a number of jobs being advertised that interest you, perhaps for the same kind of role or something similar to one you’ve already applied for. So you may be tempted to save a bit of time by using a template or the same cover letter and CV to apply for each position. Think again!
Albert Einstein was right about relativity. In other words you might initially save time by not re-writing them in order to target each role, but you could also end up spending more time applying for many more jobs than you would otherwise have to. Just put a little more effort into communicating that you are the right candidate.
Alison Doyle quotes a recruiter in her article for About.com, when she writes: “What really stands out to me, as an employer, is a letter from an informed candidate that tells me specifically why my company is of interest.” Another apparently was so pleased that he’d received a targeted CV that he wanted to immediately hire the lady who sent the application to him. Therefore write a CV and cover letter that communicates why your skills, knowledge and experience would be invaluable to the employer’s company. By doing so you will make the task of hiring you that much more simple.
That’s not to say that generalised CVs and cover letters can’t attract employers, but you will gain more opportunities to be invited to an interview if you do the following:

1. Read the advertisement well:

Take a close look at what the employer is looking for, and then think about how your skills, experience and knowledge fit into the profile of the recruiter’s ideal candidate. It’s always important to provide evidence about why you are that person. There’s no point in just mentioning that you have the required skills, because that won’t impress anyone. However, if the advertisement says that leadership skills are an absolute must, and if you have 8 years’ experience of managing a team of x number of people, you could say something like, “At … I managed a sales team of 20 people, and increased the sales by 50%.” This gives the employer an idea of what you could do for his or her firm.

2. Research the company:

At least look at the recruiter’s website. You might also find some useful information about the recruiting company on the web; such as news about its products, projects, and services. You may be able to use some of this information to address the employer directly, and it will seem more relevant, appropriate, and attractive to the person reading it. That’s because you’ve taken care to find out something about the company, making you better equipped to explain why you would like to work – not only in the advertised role – but also for the organisation itself.

3. Re-write your CV:

Consider whether your CV needs to be adapted to highlight the job specification required that are detailed in the advertisement. Note that a chronological CV may not be right for every kind of application. To bring out your skills, try using a skills-based version which may allow you to better match you competencies with those desired by the employer.

4. Customise your cover letter:

The purpose of the cover letter is to attract an employer’s attention sufficiently that they will want to read your CV, and so it should underline many of the positive points you mentioned. After the salutation (Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms) you should, for example:
  • Express interest in the advertised position;
Be positive, don’t reveal any negative experiences. You need the recruiter to read on, to look at your CV, but that won’t happen if you come across in the wrong way. Don’t forget to mention the position you are applying for, and where you saw it advertised.
  • Indicate why the role is particularly attractive to you;
The role might be attractive to you because it will provide new challenges, ones which you have not encountered before. Show how your previous employment will enable you to succeed in this new position, and perhaps what you’d like to achieve within the company.
  • Sell your skills and experience;
Provide examples of the positions that you have worked in, detailing any measurable objectives you were required to meet (i.e. sales targets if you were a salesperson), and provide examples of the results you achieved. Objectives may come in different forms, and different jobs will have different means of measuring achievements and results.
For example, if you are applying for a Public Relations role you should demonstrate your ability to gain media coverage and how you went about it. Other ‘metrics’ could be an increase in brand awareness or that x% of people changed their perception of the company, its products and services; or that you created a measurable improvement in relations with particular groups of people (often known as stakeholders: e.g. partners, investors or shareholders) that are of interest to your employer’s clients.
  • Remember that it’s about quality and not quantity;
Demonstrate that you are an effective communicator by being concise. Jobsite recommends that your CV should highlight about 10 achievements at most, covering the main highlights of your career.
  • Set yourself apart from the competition;
Don’t use words like ‘innovative’ without demonstrating that you have the ability to come up with solutions to problems or new ideas. If you use overly quoted phrases like ‘dynamic’, explain what you personally mean by them and why they describe you. Your application is a chance to demonstrate why you are different from other candidates, helping you to persuade the recruiter that you are the candidate for the job.

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