Make your Cover Letter work for you

Trying to write the perfect CV and Cover Letter? This should help.  I got an interesting insight into the workings of an employer’s mind recently.  I was in the office of a large employer in the services sector while she opened an envelope to review a CV.  She spent a MAXIMUM of 20 seconds reading it before she ripped it in two and tossed it in the bin.  Of course I was compelled to ask her what was it that she found so objectionable in the CV.  Here were her observations:

  1. No cover letter – she interpreted that as someone who didn’t care whether they worked for her company or ANY company – everyone, even employers, need to feel special!
  2.  The candidate’s work experience to date was at smaller less prestigious companies than hers and she interpreted that as someone who would or COULD not reach her company’s high standards

Always the optimist I asked the employer a What If:

What If the candidate had anticipated that response and had included a cover letter addressing their perceived area of weakness – for instance a line like “while my work experience to date has concentrated on more niche companies I am confident that I have the ability to perform to an exceptional standard at your company(and USE the company NAME).  I have followed your company’s  (USE company NAME!) progress for the last 18 months and I strongly believe that I can make a significant contribution to the business particularly in the area of  (name something that the company does)

And what did the employer think of that strategy?  She would have interviewed that candidate.

Highlight your perceived weakness…and address it head on

So while it may seem a little crazy to highlight in your cover letter why you think you don’t come up to the required criteria it is a smart strategy to anticipate what the employer will be thinking and address it head on in your cover letter.  Doing that could save your CV from meeting an ignominious end and could just get you an interview.

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