Applying for jobs is about moving through stages. – The first stage is your cover letter, it’s what gets your CV read. The second stage is your CV and its ability to get you a phone call. It’s the phone call that secures the interview. Only in the interview will you secure the job. Over the next few weeks I’ll take you through each of these stages and how to ace them. This week we kick off with the cover letter…
Trying to land the job with your cover letter is a waste of time – The aim of this document is to grab the employer’s attention and, at best, get them to give your CV more than a cursory scan. So here’s the thing, employers don’t just want to hear about you. They want to hear about themselves, too.
Think about it: Some employers receive close to 100 applications for a single position, and presumably, a large percentage of those applicants are qualified for the job, so, unless you’ve done something really out-of-this-world, yours may or may not stand out.
On the other hand, if you can show a company right away how (and why) you’d add value to their team – that’s compelling.
So, for your next cover letter, stop making it all about you. Here’s the secret to a better cover letter…
1. Show how your skills / experience will solve a problem the employer has.
Every employer has a problem (trust me, they’re not hiring for the fun of it!). Your best cover letter will address the issues that are important to the employer and how your skills and/or experience will help resolve these issues. This could be as simple as addressing the key selection criteria as outlined in the job ad. If you have a deeper understanding of the business you can more accurately state the problem and your solution.
2. Show your enthusiasm for the business.
Demonstrate a passion for, or at least some knowledge of, the business you’re applying to and try to make your enthusiasm come to life on a page. Many employers in the fitness industry are genuinely passionate about the business they’ve created and would prefer to spend their time with people that share their enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, many candidates give applications a ‘one size fits all’ approach. And this is particularly obvious to employers.
3. Leave out the things that don’t matter.
What’s NOT include can be as important as what IS included. For example, I advise avoiding any reference to your personal life. No one needs to know your marital status, if you have kids or how old you are. It can only be a distraction from the professional element of your application. Avoid negative talk about previous experiences and certainly do not run down former (or current) employers.
Keep sentences short. Avoid too much detail. Remember, the intention is to encourage a closer look at your CV, not to land the job.
Now that your CV is being read (with interest), we need to ensure it’s painting the best picture. But that’s for next time.
I’m the founder and Managing Director of HealthyPeople and suffer the curse of thinking all my ideas are good ones. Driven by a desire to help people enjoy the career/business in fitness that they’re looking for. Catch me at the HealthyPeople Feed – @dennishosking