Sunday, 20 May 2012

Covering Letters

I can quite readily admit that I'm pretty good at putting together a decent CV.  In fact, I quite enjoy it.  Yes, I know, that sounds weird to say the least but being a perfectionist a fusspot I love to draft, re-draft, and amend until I'm happy.

Covering letters on the other hand ... not so much.  I've rarely had to write one; typically I've filled in a form or simply been asked the CV.   Applying via email I have had to cobble something together:

"I am writing to apply for the position of XYZ, advertised on ref ABC ..."

Followed by a quick run down of what skills I have that are relevant to the job, please find attached a copy of my CV, when I'm available for interview, sign off.

That's worked fine for email applications when I was just trying to find something to provide an income.  But now that I'm set on a specific career path I am trying a new route of writing directly to potential employers to enquire as to whether they have any vacancies (either available now, expected to become available and so forth) but if they don't, perhaps interest them enough to keep my CV on record should something come up.

It was rather a surprising discovery when I read that most jobs are not in fact advertised.  Perhaps as many as 3 in 4.   And these days I can believe that.  Where I currently work I talk to at least one person a week who had come in to ask whether we have any jobs going.   We've not advertised but that's not to say someone hasn't just put their notice in.  (Believe me, a fair number of people are looking elsewhere.)   Someone is sure to come in at just the right time and a CV could be accepted on the spot and considered.

Why waste time and money on advertising when people are knocking on your door regularly?

Not that I feel that I can just waltz in and hand my CV over.  It just seems lacking in the professionalism that's expected.

Thus I am spending a stupid amount of time putting together a decent covering letter.   It will obiviously be tweaked for each person but getting the bare bones of it down is harder than I'd anticipated.

The bit that's giving me the most trouble is the part where you say exactly 'why' you want to work for this particular company.  What is it specifically about them?   I'm thinking it's a lot easier if you're already in a specific field of work and applying to a bigger / better company to further your career, but when you're brand new and trying to start a new career it's a bit harder to convince someone that you are a potential assert to the company since you have no experience.
Why does everything I write look wrong??

I currently have a pile of CV books next to me, all chapters on covering letters marked and I'm still ever so slightly flumoxed as to how to re-phrase "I like the look of your company, do you have a training position available?" into something a tad more professional!


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