Written by Nicholas Laracy
Applying for a job is often an arduous task, and even more so than a resume, a killer cover letter is one of the most influential factors in becoming the successful applicant. It’s hard to know where to start with a cover letter, what tone it should be written in, and what aspects of your past experience should be included. The best possible way to ensure that you DON’T get the job is by Googling ‘cover letter templates’, changing the name and the business, and sending it off with your resume. Instead, to give yourself the best chance of at least getting to the interview stage, you should tailor your cover letter to the job you are applying for by highlighting a relationship between your personality, skills, and experience to the job description.
The two main goals in writing a cover letter should be to allow for a glimpse of your personality to shine through enough for the interviewer to want to meet you, and to describe why you are the most fitting applicant for that particular role in a clear, concise manner. The very first thing you should do before writing a cover letter is read over the job description, double check it for key words and requirements, and then check it again. A brief look at one of the most recent uploads on Seek under ‘Advertising, Arts, and Media’, shows there is a section outlining the responsibilities under the role, and another outlining the key skills and experience required to fulfil them. For example, for this particular role, one of the responsibilities is to “exploit the latest promotional and social networking techniques to ensure we achieve both audience reach and scale and manage key partner relationships and influencers in Queensland.”
Looking at this, a wishful applicant should instantly start discerning how they can use past experience and their own skills to portray themselves as someone who is equipped with the ability to fulfil the particular responsibility. An obvious route to take might be to write something in the vein of “I am familiar with modern technologies and all forms of social media, using them for both professional and personal purposes”. However, there are likely a multitude of applicants who have studied the same course as you and as a result are likely to convey the same message. The key is to stand out from these people by extrapolating on the skill and how you personally demonstrate it, instead of simply restating key words.
A more effective way of demonstrating an ability to exploit social networking techniques would be to state something along the lines of “while I am familiar with modern technologies and all forms of social media, using them for both professional and personal purpose, I believe that they are often misused or underutilised in the industry. Although paid promotion options on sites such as Facebook and Instagram can be extremely beneficial in the right context, I have found in past experience that in achieving maximum audience reach one of the most advantageous techniques is to form an association with brands that have a mutual interest, whether they reside within the same industry or not”. This type of rhetoric will help exhibit a thorough understanding required in that role as well as portraying yourself as an independent thinker, without having to explicitly express that you have a thorough knowledge of the topic and are an independent thinker. This will help the cover letter naturally flow with a conversational tone, rather than sounding awkward and ‘clunky’.
Once a link has been drawn between several of the key requirements of the role and your own experience and skills, you can express a strong desire for the job by talking about your personality. For example, if the role you are applying for requires strong people skills, and you have previously been involved in projects or positions where you have applied strong communication skills, you could write “I have a genuine passion for people, and as a result have been deeply satisfied in my role at “_____”, where I have been able to exercise my intuitive, empathetic nature in helping to achieve common goals outlined by the company’s hierarchy. My current position requires having first-hand involvement with a number of different people, which has provided invaluable experience in forming strong relationships. Moreover, these relationships I have built have helped to gain the trust of key stakeholders in the company, which has proven to be imperative in succeeding as a team and personally in my own role”.
When writing your next cover letter, carefully read the job description, and determine how you can draw a link between it and your own experience and skills in a professional, personable manner.