I am prompted to write about cover letters this month for a few reasons, first because it's a natural extension of my blog on resume writing, second because given the number of niche industry jobs we recruit for (niche industry recruitment is Kinsec’s specialty after all) the number of really dismal or non existent cover letters we receive is huge. However I have been put off writing about cover letter as they are so job specific a cover letter really needs to be role specific. Before I go on these guidelines will address cover letters and key selection criteria identification but do not extend to answering Key Selection Criteria (KSC’s). Answering KSC is a skill all of its own and the way in which KSCs should be answered is often industry specific i.e.- government KSC answers are very different to Training industry KSC responses or skills mapping.
First of all, you should always submit a cover letter even if there are no KSCs outlined in the ad (highly unlikely) it need only be basic. You should always use letter format – most word processing programs have performers available for you to use, make sure you select a formal letter format. If a key contact is identified in the advert you must address the letter accordingly.
Example cover letter and format:
67 Stable Crt [this is your address]
May 25, 2012
In reply to: [insert role title]
M Barrett [contact name and company address]
56 Example Way
Attention: M Barrett
Dear [insert name, if you are not sure of a name leave this line out but have a warm opening line]
I would like to take this opportunity to express my interest in the [insert job title] role as advertised on [insert advert location ie – seek.com]. I have a strong administration background, a high level of customer focus and enjoy working as part of a team. At current I am working in human resources whilst completing a Bachelor of Business Management. –[Insert your own background/skills]
Please find my resume attached for your perusal.
This cover letter shows the reader this person can write correctly and format a formal correspondence. For many administration and entry-level roles these are important skills that are easy to displayed in a letter. The letter addresses the candidate’s key skills and provides the reader with a snapshot of their experience past and present.
Whilst this is sufficient if an advert asks for certain criteria (which most well written ads do) you need to address these in your resume. Treat this like an assignment question, break the resume down into KSC’s and address them accordingly keeping it to one page. See highlighted hidden KSC’s in the below mock advert:
This is an exciting opportunity to join the ACME’s Marketing team in the continuing full-time position of MarketingAdministrator. Reporting to the Marketing Information Manager you will be responsible for gathering, analyzing and providing business information to support the sustainable achievement of divisional strategic and financial objectives.
Your success in this role will be underpinned by your commitment to continuous improvement along with strong analytical and numerical skills. Your personable nature combined with excellent communication skills will enable you to work well across the broader marketing/sales environment and the wider business.
Key tasks include:
- Maintenance of the website leading to continuous improvement
- Creating and arranging the preparation of written marketing material i.e. PowerPoint, Persuasive and Technical writing
- Overseeing distribution of samples and promotional materials
Building on your relevant tertiary qualifications in a Business, Marketing or other related field, the variety and challenge of this position will provide an excellent pathway to commence your career within marketing.
To apply please submit your resume and cover letter outlining your motivations behind your application and the skills and attributes that you feel you would serve you best in this role, by following the links below. Applications may be directed to Amanda Honeywell, Human Resource Manager.
Appropriate cover letter example:
67 Stable Crt
May 25, 2012
In reply to: Marketing Administrator Position.
56 Example Way
Attention: Ms Honeywell
I would like to take this opportunity to express my interest in the Marketing Administrator position as advertised on seek.com. I have a strong marketing administration background, a high level of customer focus and enjoy working as part of a team. At current I am working with ACE Marketing, I obtained this position as a graduate after completing my Bachelor of Business Management in 2010. In this role I have built strong relationships within internal and external stakeholders which I utilize to gather information for use on our website. I am responsible for the maintenance of the website and the analysis of website traffic. I attend trade shows twice a year and am responsible for hard and soft copy materials for presentation at both shows. The management of these materials was cumbersome when I commenced my role with ACE and accordingly I have implemented a marketing materials management system. This has led to reduced errors and cost savings for the business, I consider this implementation to be a direct result of my passion for continuous improvement. I am looking to move on from ACE as I feel I have contributed as much as I can to the business at this point.
Thank you for your time in reading my application, for more detail please find my resume attached for your perusal.
Whilst this letter could flow a little better it addresses nearly every KSC outlined in the advert, it is kept short and direct and is professional in it’s tone. It could be higher level in its communication style but given the role is an Administration/Entry Level position its tone is appropriate. Always have another party read your application, it is nearly impossible to accurately proof read your own work (I’m sure there are errors in this blog!), if an advert calls for high attention to detail then you need to be absolutely sure there are no errors anywhere in your application as this will end your application almost instantly. Lastly avoid over personalizing your cover letter, do not talk about your personal interests or your family members roles or positions it detracts from the professional tone of the letter unless of course this is absolutely necessary for the role i.e- you are going for a role with a sporting organisation and are a keen cricket player in which case you would mention your accolades appropriately... This information can be reserved for phone or face-to-face interview.
I hope this helps someone out there and contributes to better cover letters coming into our inbox!
interested in Kinsec? - check us out at www.kinsecconsulting.com ;-)