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|The Importance Of The Cover Letter In A Job Application by irohadis: 1:26am On Mar 24, 2010|
Considering the shear number of applicants applying for each position advertised in Nigeria, it has become far more important for applicants to hone the application skills that can easily distinguish them from the rest of the pack.
While the resume or cv contains your experience and achievements, many employers are unwilling to go through each of the hundreds or thousands that land on their desk. What can determine whether the applicant’s very rich resume is binned of read is the cover letter. Thus, the achievements have to be projected in the cover note. I will now outline some of the key things applicants should focus on in their cover note.
1. Save your time: apply to jobs you feel strongly that you a qualified for. If you think it’s just a shot in the dark, then, it most probably is and poised to miss its target. Take the time to think about the job while revising your cover note and resume to talk directly to the position. This may prove far more efficient than forwarding same applications to different openings.
2. Length: while a three-page cover note will hardly be read, putting down three lines of text is grossly insufficient. A sparse cover note shows the applicant is inattentive, impatient or just incapable of projecting their skills in their first impression. I suggest one page for most jobs.
3. Content: spending your words on your biographical details is unproductive. Some applicants start by saying when and where they were born, their village and state of origin and all the places they schooled – starting from primary school. This is wasteful and I would recommend the following order:
a. Start by asking the employer to accept your application while spelling out where you saw the job advertised.
b. Follow this by stating your highest qualification or the qualification that is most relevant to the job advertised. PLEASE, if you have second class ‘lower division,’ stay with BACHELORS (in whatever) and LEAVE out the ‘second class’ and ‘lower division’ out of it. There is no gain emphasising your weaknesses.
c. Now state where you are currently working or what you are doing as a vocation. This part is tricky. If your current job is relevant to the position advertised, by all means state it very clearly. If not, talk about it as an interim economic measure while you wait for an opportunity like the one advertised. The reader will understand but also may see it as evidence of your resourcefulness.
If you are completely unemployed, state something creative you are doing which will appear to position you better for career advancement or make you more fitting for the job advertised. If you are applying for a sales job, stating your experience hawking on Lagos traffic and what creative ways you brought to the craft to beat other competitors will attract an employers attention more than another certification you added to your line of certificates. If you are a recent engineering graduate, talk about how you have deployed your skills to solve structural and technical problems. Talk about your struggles with an idea or invention at your school or even at home. This is certainly as or even more important than announcing the ‘PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITY’ you attended. Students who worked on thesis projects should include it in their cover letter if relevant, stating the new and interesting ideas explored in and through it.
Demarcate your various achievements with paragraphs for emphasis.
d. In one line state that your achievements make you fit for the job.
e. And, if you have enough detail about the company and the position, use one paragraph to tell them how you intend to add more value to the company with your skills.
4. Conclude: in one very short paragraph, use representative phrases such as ‘my education,’ ‘projects,’ ‘work experience,’ to sum up your achievements and state that you think they make you most suited for the job and you would be happy to work with the employer.
5. NOTES: Be honest yet strategic. You may be sabotaging yourself when you are heaping dishonest praises on a company you hardly know. It shows you are insincere. If the employer warrants the praise, say EFCC or UN, put it across constructively by hinting at what warrants the praise such as: ‘your tenacious fight against corruption’ and ‘global or humanitarian position’ respectively.
Read you application letter twice at least and if possible get someone to read it for typos. Remember, this is your first impression; you don’t want to spell ‘Sales Assistant’ as ‘Sales Assistance’ when it is the title of the job.
If you are applying to similar jobs, you only need to change few details to adjust a cover letter template. If you are applying to different kinds of jobs, create different and fitting templates, which you can tweak, to suit each related application.
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