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Have you heard of ATS?
It may sound like a disease to you but no -
An Applicant tracking system software provides recruiting and hiring tools for companies. Among other functions, these systems collect and sort thousands of resumes. When you apply for a job online, your resume isn’t typically going directly to a recruiter or hiring manager. It’s first being processed by an ATS. Whether that human recruiter ever sees your resume could depend on how well your resume is optimized for ATS algorithms.
Check back with me if your CV is bulletproof and ATS ready
Find out more about how to write the perfect cover letter
What is a professional job application cover letter?
A cover letter is a single-page letter that you include with your job application.
You should always include a cover letter, unless the job advertisement clearly says not to.
The purpose of a cover letter
When writing a cover letter, you should:
- introduce yourself
- mention the job (or kind of job) you're applying for (or looking for)
- show that your skills and experience match the skills and experience needed to do the job
- encourage the reader to read your resume
- finish with a call to action (for example, asking for an interview or a meeting).
How long should a cover letter be?
Keep it short and don’t write more than one page.
Matching your cover letter to the job
Use a different cover letter for each job you apply for. Your cover letter needs to show that you know what the job involves, and what the employer is looking for.
To do this, be specific about your skills and qualities. You also need to show how they match the needs of the job or the organisation.
Here are three simple ways to make your cover letter as specific as possible:
Find out who to address it to
Try not to address your letter ‘To whom it may concern’. Find out the name of the person who will read your application. This might take a little effort, but it's worth it.
If you found the job in an advertisement, it will probably name a person to send the application to. If it doesn’t, call the employer or advertiser and ask who to send the application to. Telephone is best, but email them if you can’t find a contact phone number.
If you find out the person's name, don't use their first name. Use either ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ and their last name instead.
Find out more about the job
When finding out who to address your application to, you could also try to contact that person so you can ask questions. This can help you match your cover letter (and resume) to the job.
You could ask:
- Does the job involve working as part of a team?
- Who would I be reporting to if I got the job?
- Can you tell me more about the kind of person you're looking for?
- Is there a position description I can look at? (Only ask this if the job advertisementdoesn’t mention a position description.)
Note down the answers to these questions as they can be used in your cover letter
Find out more about the company
Find out more about the company so you can tailor your cover letter for the job. Here are some tips:
- If you know the name of the company, look for information online.
- If the company has a website, visit it (especially their ‘About us’ page).
- If the company name isn't in the advertisement, call the recruitment agency or advertiser and ask who the employer is.
What to include in your cover letter
Your name and contact details.
Put your name and contact details at the top of your cover letter. You don't have to give your postal address, but you do need to include your email and phone number.
Your email address should create a professional impression. Don't use an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't have a professional email address, you can make one with a free email provider. Make it simple – something that includes your first name and your last name is a good way to go.
Their name and contact details
Under your own name and contact details, you should include:
- the name of the person you're writing to
- their position or the name of their company
- their contact details.
If you're having trouble finding this information, you can call the company to ask who you should address your application to.
You can also use ‘To whom it may concern’, but it’s best to only use this as a last resort.
The name of the job you're going for
At the start of your cover letter you need to say which job you're applying for.
You can do this on a line by itself (for example, ‘Regarding: Application for Stock Controller position’).
You can also do this in the opening paragraph (for example, ‘I am writing to apply for the recently advertised Stock Controller position’.)
A list of your relevant skills
Include a brief summary about how your skills and experiences match the job description. A short bullet list is fine.
If you're answering a job advertisement, there may be a position description that lists essential skills and experiences. It may also have a list of ‘desirable’ skills and experience. Your cover letter needs to respond to all of the items on the ‘essential’ list. You should also respond to as many items as you can on the ‘desirable’ list.
Remember that if you say you have a skill or experience, you need to show how you've used it or how you got it (for example, if you say you've got child-minding skills, mention some jobs where you've used them).
A summary of why you're right for the job
After listing your skills and experience, you should explain why these mean you're suited to the job (for example, ‘My ability to get along with anyone and my experience in solving customer problems in a retail setting make me ideally suited for this job.’)
Speak their language
Using the same language as people who do a particular job shows that you understand the industry or field that the employer works in.
Find out what the employer does, and how they talk about themselves. Use this language in your cover letter.
Ask them to contact you
Your cover letter should finish by asking the employer to read your resume. It should also ask them to contact you about an interview.
Try something simple like, ‘I have attached a copy of my resume. I look forward to hearing from you about this job’.
Try not to over use phrases like ‘I believe’, ‘I have’ and ‘I am’. Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about how you can help the employer.
Once you've written your letter, read over it, and try to take out or rewrite as many sentences that start with ‘I’ as you can.
Contact me and we will go the road to your perfect cover letter together
It's a match! Is it?
Many applicants wonder why they get a NO despite their seemingly perfect application.
Why you don’t get a positive reply.
Your resume does not meet the standards
It depends on the ATS (Application Tracking System) compatibility if your resume ever is seen by a human recruiter. Make sure your documents are ATS ready and well edited and designed.
Human resources managers receive a large number of applications every day and decide on the basis of certain factors such as faultlessness or incompleteness whether the documents should be read more closely or sorted out immediately. Furthermore, the visual design also plays a major role. Here it is important to ensure that the layout is adapted to the desired job opening.
Crazy salary expectations
If you decide to announce your salary expectations in your cover letter (because you were asked to, otherwise don't) it is important that they are appropriate for the position. Otherwise it can quickly happen that the HR managers decide to reject the candidacy because of the unrealistic amount.
Not qualified enough or too senior for the role
A reason for a negative reply could be your qualification. Too high or too low. It is important that you read the job advertisements carefully before you apply and consider whether you meet most of the requirements. In case you are lacking experience or skills needed be bold about it and do not cover it up. Try to ensure to show that you are optimistic to overcome the flaws with your commitment and learning abilities.
Lack of experience
This is a vicious circle for professional starters. A certain amount of work experience is very important to many employers. You may have just graduated from university and theoretically have all the required qualifications. You feel ready to take off to prove your skills but you never receive an invitation to an interview. Many applicants are confronted with a refusal at this stage because, despite their existing knowledge, they lack practical experience. In any case, it is important to stay tuned and continue to send out targeted applications, as there are many companies that hire good candidates, even if they have little work experience.
Right place, wrong time
Not every job advertisement includes the publication date and the starting date of the job is not always mentioned by the company. It can easily happen that you are just a few days late with your application and the application process is already very advanced.
A NO does not necessarily have to be related to your skills and qualifications but can simply be due to a badly chosen timing. Again, it's important not to get discouraged and to continue applying for suitable positions, at some point the timing will be right.
Reasons for a negative answer AFTER the interview
One reason why you were not able to convince may be a lack of preparation for the interview. Maybe you had a black-out or a bad day. It can happen. Move on and try again.
You are the right candidate for the wrong team
It is possible that you fit the position very well and still get a NO. Another reason may be that you personality doesn't fit into the team with which you would work in the future. This doesn't mean that you are not okay the way you are, it just means that your personality might not be compatible with your potential team members.
However, you should still be authentic. Never try to pretend to be someone else (for various reasons).
Popular internal candidate
In some cases, jobs must be advertised publicly and external applicants must be invited for an interview before filling the gap. However, an internal employee is already in pole position to catch the job because he or she has already been trained and knows the internal procedures. Bad chances for you. Not your fault.
Remember. Sometimes things are not meant to happen. And that's for a reason. First you may feel disappointed or rejected. Later on it will become clear to you that your perfect workplace was waiting for you somewhere else.