How to write a successful cover letter when applying for jobs online.

With all the emails people receive and ignore these days, one must question if a cover letter is necessary when applying for a job online. Personally I’ve created several filters and methods to avoid having to go through the onslaught of emails I receive on a daily basis. But I strongly believe that every resume sent to an employer should be accompanied by a cover letter as I see it as the first page of a good resume. Giving the application process a personal feel the resume can’t and it also shows the employer that you have the qualities they require, as you can focus on this in the cover letter.

In this brief guide I’ll go through some key components to a successful cover letter:

If emailed put your cover letter in the body of the email. If you plan on attaching it I would recommend that you convert it into pdf format, as employers are more likely to trust an attachment that’s in pdf. Remember to say what the attachment is, in the body of the email so it doesn’t seem like a blank email and deleted as spam.

Don’t make the employer work to read your letter! Make it easy to read so keep away from going crazy with the font you choose. (match the font used on your resume)

Keep it clear, concise and to the point. (you’re not writing an essay)

Use your own words not formal long-winded clichés. This is what gives it the “personal” touch so the employer can really connect with you.

Action verbs can help to make it sound better.

Spell-check and then double-check your spelling and grammar. Spell checkers won’t pick up form instead of from or sex instead of six!

Answer the question “Why should I see you?”

Make the person who reads it feel special: that it is addressed to them personally and not one of fifty identical letters you are sending out without thought or care. WARNING! Remember to research the “contact” so you’re actually sending the cover letter / application to the person making the decision. Don’t forget to double check the exact spelling of that person’s name. It’s very unprofessional to misspell a person’s name, especially in this case.

You might include your understanding of the work/knowledge of the company, and how you fit the criteria required. “I have a real interest in working as a ….” will not do: you must say why you decided to pursue this career, what first brought it to your attention, why you as a Science student should be interested in a career in finance.

Relate your skills to the job. Show the employer that you have obtained the communicating, team working, problem solving and leadership or other skills that are appropriate for the job.

Say when you’re available to start work (and end, if it’s a placement): be as flexible as possible, but don’t say things you know you can’t fulfill.


* A recent survey showed that  60% of resume/cover letters are mailed to the wrong person.

It’s important that you demonstrate to the potential employer that you understand the job requirements and can do the job. So include the skills and experiences you have that match the job description. You also need to show that you are enthusiastic and have a positive attitude towards the role and the hiring company.

Good luck with your job search.

Six Things You Should Omit From your resume.

I’ve been working with job seekers, employers and recruiters for over 10 years now and over the years I’ve seem many mistakes or things people place on their resume without giving much thought to it. Things that would certainly lead to them not securing the job they were applying for. And without knowing they are undermining their own chances at ever securing the dream job they’re looking for.

I’m sure if I had the time or focus, I could point out over 25 such mistakes, but today we’ll concentrate on six of them.

1. Job experience that’s unrelated to the position you’re applying for only clutters your resume and irritates the potential employer. Always consider that she may be a very busy person and that her time is of value to her.  Did your paper route or high-school job as a cashier at Walmart really prepare you to be a team leader of Java programmers? There are other ways to prove your people skills, so stick with the jobs and internships that are most relevant.

2. Like it or not, some hiring managers will discriminate against employees based on their age. Technically, this kind of discrimination is illegal, but if you seem too young or too old to do the job, you may not even get an interview — despite what the rest of the résumé says. It seems to be common place in the Caribbean and other former British colonies that age and other personal information is included on resumes, but I’m sure it’s illegal in those places for employers to ask for such information.

3. Lies about your previous job experience, inflated to make you seem like the right fit for the vacant position. If you haven’t worked in a managerial position, you’ll be outed with a simple phone call to your last boss and immediately disqualified from the rest of the hiring process. If you feel uncomfortable about your lack of skill, focus on the positive and show how other great qualities would make you a great manager or supervisor. With the right “focus” you’ll get that interview and then be able to convince the potential employer why you’re the right person for the job.

4. Who cares about what your hobbies are? While some employers like to see that you’re active in the community or have won nonprofessional merits and awards, no one really wants to know that you love knitting with your great aunt or were named the beer-chugging contest winner in university. When in doubt, leave it out.

5. When should you include information about your family? NEVER!  Whether or not you’re married or have children does not belong on a résumé. Employers will automatically assume that as a parent of small children you will be unavailable to work odd hours. YOU should be the one to make that call, not them.

6. Even if you have a hard time believing in your strengths, your résumé is not the place to show weakness. If you know that you’re not a born leader, consider writing that you work well in groups or that you take direction well. Putting a positive spin on yourself will help the hiring manager see you that way also. there’s absolutely no room on your resume for negative thoughts/words.

I’ll revisit this post in the near future with some other great resume writing tips, to help you in your quest to locate and secure a better paying job.