So, you want to apply for a position that’s asking you to address Selection Criteria. What next? More often than not, government positions will require you to address Selection Criteria. The number of individual criterion will vary from department to department and job to job, but there are usually at least four, sometimes up to 15 or 20. The length of your responses also varies, depending on the specific requirements for the position you are applying for. Some roles specify maximum word counts (usually per response), others specify total page limits for the entire response, while some leave it open. Make sure you take note of any limits, since your application could be rejected based on non-compliance with these specifications. If there are no limits, half to 2/3 A4 page is usually ideal. Although, more senior executive roles may need up to a page.
Here are four simple steps for answering Selection Criteria:
Step 1 – Understand what’s being requested
Read through the Selection Criteria in detail and understand what each one is asking for. The Job / Role Description or Statement of Duties will help you understand what’s required in terms of qualifications, experience and skills and this should help you shape your responses to the Selection Criteria. Take particular note of how the Selection Criteria are worded – you might need to have ‘well developed skills’ or ‘demonstrated capacity’, or ‘experience using’, or ‘knowledge of’ – you need to differentiate these requirements and understand that they all require a different approach. ‘Experience using’ requires a description of how you’ve used something to achieve a particular outcome or result, whereas ‘knowledge of’ needs a demonstration of your knowledge about a particular area.
Step 2 – State your claim
You will generally be required to respond in writing separately to each criterion using an example (or two) to demonstrate how you can claim you have the skill, knowledge or experience. The best way to do this is by providing relevant examples from past roles or study – but first up, you need to state clearly and concisely that you can meet the criterion and give a brief reason why you believe that. For example, “I have proven written and verbal communication skills, further developed in my current role over the past five years, where I have communicated in writing, face to face and over the telephone with a broad range of stakeholders including clients, the general public and senior executives.”
Step 3 – Support your claim
This is the most important part of the process and will usually require specific examples to back up your claim. We recommend using the STAR model to help present your examples in a solid cohesive manner. See my previous article Standing Out With the STAR Model for more detail on what STAR stands for and how to best write examples using this approach. Briefly, you should brainstorm for examples – remembering the specific language used in the Selection Criteria to pick the best ones. Ideally, examples should be recent and relevant. Think of as many as you can, before using STAR to flesh them out and provide the detail. Many clients I talk to can’t initially think of any relevant examples, however once we start talking about projects they’ve worked on or regular tasks/responsibilities, the examples flow. Think creatively, and talk to colleagues or supervisors if you can to generate ideas about what you might be able to use. Don’t forget to summarise and state the benefit/outcome/result of your approach. Provide a brief (one – two sentence) summary on how you feel you will contribute in the area.
Step 4 – Be critical when checking your work
Read over your work and check for spelling and grammatical errors. Be hard on yourself and determine if you’ve used the best possible examples to demonstrate your ability to meet the Selection Criteria. Go back and re-read the wording of each one and make sure you’ve addressed everything it’s asking for. Make sure your responses are accurate and honest – don’t exaggerate or misrepresent your role. Make sure you used positive language; and the examples are clear with no ambiguity regarding your role. If you ‘assisted’ or were ‘involved’ in something, it may be better to think of an example where you can actually say “I did this”. Try to use examples where you can say “I” and talk in the first person. That way there is no uncertainty from the reader that it was you implementing the project, carrying out the work, achieving the goals, or receiving the praise.
Most importantly – give yourself time. This process can be lengthy and you will achieve the best result by thinking through your experience, achievements and successes in order to present the best possible examples. Try not to leave it until the last minute and you will be more likely to succeed.
If you would like assistance from a professional resume writer to prepare Selection Criteria responses that help you get shortlisted, see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria writing services.
Katie Roberts Career Consulting Reviews – Resume Writing Service
Finding a job you truly love can be tough. What matters to me in terms of happiness with my work might be completely different to what matters to you, so trying to get a job at the cool company your friend works at might not be a great idea either. You need to find something that suits you – either as a building block for your long term career or as an opportunity you’re going to be comfortable with for now. Considering most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work, it pays to make sure your next job is great! Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Don’t wait – the majority of people who move on are happy about their decision. If you’re unhappy in your job, make the decision to do something about it and then take action to make it happen. Don’t let your dissatisfaction with your work environment erode the enthusiasm and confidence that you’ll need to find a new one.
2. Focus on what you like rather than focusing on the negatives and the things you dislike about your current job. The goal here is that you want to be happy in your work right? That means avoiding what you don’t like doing will help to a point, BUT you need to be doing more of what you love! Think about the things you like doing and take notice of what you are naturally good at – try to think broadly here and don’t limit your options.
3. Don’t let lack of skills or experience hold you back – you may think you don’t have the right skills or experience to secure your dream job. If you’re looking to change careers altogether, there may be some investment in training and/or education required to make it happen. Don’t be daunted by this task. Break it down into manageable steps and if it means you’ll be happy in your work longer term, it’s worth it. Also, most people have a raft of transferable skills that they underestimate. Consider seeing a Career Counsellor to get an independent perspective. Career Counsellors are trained professionals who can help you find your passion and achieve your full potential in your career. They often use formal assessment tools to better understand where your interests, values and personality traits lie in order to identify the careers, industries and work environment that best suit you. Many people are amazed at the areas uncovered during these sessions.
4. Be realistic about time frames – finding a new job does take time and may take longer than you expect. The perfect job needs to be a two way fit, so having unrealistic expectations in terms of the time it’s going to take can get you down. Give yourself some time to achieve your goal and try to focus on the bigger picture while getting there.
5. Avoid basing decisions on salary and perks – this is difficult I know. Many people base their decisions on salary and/or perks of the job and wouldn’t dream of moving to a new job without a raise. I truly believe this is a mistake. Of course we all need money to live and most of us work to live, not the other way around, however there is a point at which we should say enough is enough. If you work in a highly paid job that you are truly unhappy in, it will take a toll on your health and general wellbeing. What is the point of that in the longer term? Feeling stressed and burnt out on a day to day basis will limit your chances of moving ahead anyway, so working out how much money you really need to live on might help you take a job with less stress and hours and more job satisfaction in the longer term.
If you’ve already lost your job, you may be feeling anxious about securing your next position and feel like you’re not in a position to wait for the perfect job. The period following a redundancy can be stressful, however it can also be a good time to take stock, re-evaluate your career options and look at new avenues to pursue. Start your job search quickly and try to allow yourself some time to achieve the perfect role, rather than becoming desperate and needing to take the first thing that comes along. Read my previous article about Surviving Redundancy for more tips.
Remember, finding the perfect job takes time and effort, you may need to develop some new skills, take some courses or enrol in more formal education along the way. If you’re in a stable job, you don’t have to leave until you’ve secured your next role – but don’t let the bad job you’re in bring you down emotionally to a point where you can’t secure your next role. There are many paths to different careers and jobs and you may benefit by talking to a professional.
If you would like help from a Career Coach to evaluate your options for a new job or if you’d like to better understand the career options that best suit your interests, values and personality, please see our Career Guidance and Career Coaching services.
A Resume is a document that details your work history and key skills. Whilst it should always be factual and not contain exaggerations, it is essential to demonstrate value to your future employer. My top ten tips on how to write a Resume are:
1. Summarise Your Career – a Career Profile provides a quick overview of you – a preview of your resume written to entice the reader further. It should be the first thing the reader sees, no longer than two paragraphs – and include a mixture of your professional success, academic/industry training, together with any relevant personal attributes.
2. List Key Skills at the front so a recruiter could read just page one of your resume and understand whether you’re a potential candidate. This part of the resume is the easiest (and most relevant) area to customise and is the section that could make the difference in getting noticed. Try not to simply state you have a skill – demonstrate how you have it – i.e. if you mention supervising teams – state how many people and/or what they accomplished. If you manage budgets, indicate values. Put each skill into context and help the reader understand the size, scope or complexity of your expertise.
3. Detail Your Job History – list the jobs held in reverse chronological order beginning with most recent. Include job title, company name, start and finish dates, responsibilities and achievements. Don’t list every task – instead include key responsibilities that demonstrate the role’s scope and focus the detail around achievements. In terms of how far to go back, 10 years is usually enough.
4. Focus on Achievements – include at least two or three achievements for each role – more if you can. Tangible achievements are first priority, but also think about projects you’ve contributed to, collaboration with colleagues, extra responsibilities taken on, new processes you initiated, customer accolades received or major targets exceeded. Think about where you went above and beyond – chances are, recruiters will consider these achievements.
5. Fill Gaps – recruiters don’t like mysteries so if you have been out of the workforce it is preferable to explain the gap rather than leave it blank.
6. Education, Training and Accreditation – include your relevant formal education, professional development, short training, certificate courses, and licences. Unless you are a recent graduate, there is no need to list High School or mention subjects studied – however if you received honours, distinctions or any special awards you could mention it. If you are currently studying – indicate when you expect to finish.
7. Professional Memberships & Affiliations – these demonstrate commitment and dedication to your career, and can provide good networking opportunities. Include the organisation and level of affiliation as well as an indication of how long you’ve been associated.
8. Referees – there is no need to include names and contact details (although you can if you wish), or copies of written references. It is acceptable to simply state “available upon request”.
9. Include Enough Detail to sell yourself without rambling. A standard resume is three to five pages – anything longer and you’ve included too much history or gone back too far – remember 10 years is adequate. If you want to showcase highly relevant experience older than 10 years, include a section called “Relevant Experience”.
10. Include Prominent Contact Details – this seems obvious, but many resumes don’t include contact details in an obvious spot. Include full name, address, phone, mobile and email address at the front (top) of the document, then add your name and email and/or phone in a footer on each page. Make it easy for a recruiter to contact you.
A well written Resume will not get you the job – that’s up to you to achieve at the interview. However, it will help you secure the all important interview. If you follow these tips, you’ll write a Resume that helps recruiters make the all important decision about whether or not that happens.
If you are interested in getting assistance from a professional resume writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application, please see our CV and Resume Writing Services.
It takes just 20-30 seconds for an experienced recruiter to read a resume – OK, not read exactly – but scan in enough detail to make a decision on whether or not to read further. In a crowded job market, recruiters notice ‘stand-out’ applications. This means it must be easy to read and contain information that identifies you as an ideal candidate! Here’s some tips to secure a place on that all important shortlist:
- Make it Relevant – highlight relevant work experience and success. If you’ve worked in a completely different role for the past five years, but have highly relevant experience prior to that – call it ‘relevant’ experience and put it up front. If your resume doesn’t immediately and clearly establish your relevant experience and highlight what you’ve achieved for your employer, it may be ignored.
- Address the Must Haves – many recruiters discard applications that don’t meet their list of ‘must haves’. Read the job ad and/or position description carefully and figure out what these might be. Ensure all the requirements you meet are addressed – so the recruiter sees how your experience/skills match the ‘must haves’ for this role.
- Don’t Leave Questions Unanswered – if a recruiter has too many questions, your application may get overlooked. Fill gaps in your history – if you took time off to study or travel – say so. If you worked for a small company that isn’t well known – explain what they do. Don’t just include the years as start and finish dates – e.g. if you write 2011-2012 you could have worked there for two months or two years – be more specific. If you’re currently studying – state when you expect to graduate.
- Cover Letter – include a personal cover letter addressing the core requirements of the position. Highlight why you’re an ideal candidate early in the letter and make the recruiter want to read your resume in more detail.
- Be Realistic – If you’re applying for a senior manager’s role, leading a large team of managers and you’ve never even led a team – your application may be ignored. There can be exceptions to this, but if you need a certain level of experience or qualification that you just don’t have – recognise you might be aiming too high.
- Make it Easy to Read – use bullet points, sections, headings, achievements and white space to make your application appealing. Don’t be tempted to make it too fancy – clear and concise language, no jargon, and a simple but contemporary format is the way to go.
- Proofread Your Application – and get someone else to do so as well – correct any spelling and grammatical errors, fix poor formatting, shorten parts that ramble. Ensure your application is cohesive, clear, concise and accurate – and conveys why you’re an ideal fit for the role.
Remember, it takes many recruiters just 20-30 seconds to decide whether to read your application in more detail, so give them every reason to do so. Make your application stand out by highlighting your relevant skills and experience and providing a taste of the benefits you’ve achieved for previous employers.
If you would like assistance from a professional resume writer with putting together an application that helps get you shortlisted for more jobs, please see our CV and Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria writing services.
To succeed in today’s competitive job market, you need to tap into both the advertised and unadvertised job markets. You need a comprehensive strategy that helps you find and connect with recruiters and employers, combined with a tailored, targeted approach that makes you stand out from other candidates. It’s particularly important to build your online presence, protect your personal brand, network with others, and market yourself effectively. If you’re not achieving interviews, you might need to rethink your approach and develop a comprehensive job search strategy….
Identify Job Search Websites: in addition to SEEK, MyCareer and CareerOne, there are other niche job search websites. Do a Google search to identify relevant recruitment agencies, professional associations, university career websites, niche job search websites, industry journals, and the LinkedIn Job Directory. Sign up for automated alerts if the option is available and create a dedicated favourites folder for reference.
Identify Recruiters: perform a search for your particular role on popular job search sites and identify common recruiters. Add the sites to your favourites folder and make a note of the consultants.
Evaluate Your Resume: how many applications have you sent off and how many interviews have you secured? If it’s not many, what might be the problem? Perhaps you need to revamp your Resume and/or application process. Think about asking someone in your industry to review it and provide feedback, or consider getting a professional involved.
Use LinkedIn: recruiters review LinkedIn Profiles and you can easily be found, so make sure it’s up to date with relevant information and keywords, as well as a current, professional photo. Add in as much detail as you can including additional sections such as qualifications, certifications, courses, memberships, interests etc. It provides a more comprehensive view of you, as well as additional opportunities to connect with others. Use LinkedIn to research recruitment consultants and HR managers from companies you’d like to target. Join relevant groups, follow companies you’d like to work for, and connect with others in your industry.
Customise Each Application: write a customised cover letter for every job you apply for making sure to address as many ‘job requirements’ as you can.
Build Your Online Presence: there are many ways to do this including LinkedIn (discussed above); writing a blog; developing your own website; creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, or Youtube videos. This is especially important if you are looking for contract/freelance work.
Check Your Settings: some employers look up candidate’s social media pages as part of their screening process, so make sure your privacy settings for social media sites are set to an appropriate level and ensure personal photos, timelines, tweets etc. are not generally visible.
Access the Hidden Job Market: a large percentage of available jobs are never advertised so this is an important part of your job search strategy. Connect with some of the recruiters you identified via LinkedIn. Develop a standard pitch as to why you want to connect and what you can offer. Think about specific companies you’d like to work for then research their website careers page and follow them on social media. Network with others in your industry, join suitable LinkedIn Groups and make active contributions to help build your profile.
Network: think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. Remember there are many different ways to connect with your network so use them all – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face to face and online networking groups etc. Find relevant professional associations and networking groups – attend seminars and connect with people in your industry.
Stay In Touch: once you’ve identified relevant job sites, recruiters, companies, etc. it is important to regularly follow up.
A customised job search strategy is your blueprint for success. Remember, there are many aspects to securing your next opportunity and if you’re finding it tough at the moment – you’re not alone. That doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve success – you just need to take some time to develop a winning job search strategy.
If you would like help from a Career Coach to develop a Job Search Strategy tailored to your target role/industry, please see our Job Search Coaching services.
The time following a redundancy can be tough, with all kinds of emotions stirred up including disappointment, anger, resentment, shame, anxiety, and uncertainty which can lead to reduced confidence. Despite this, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude while searching for your next job.
Here are our top 10 tips for minimising the pain:
- Accept the loss and move on. Acknowledging feelings of loss may help initially, however the sooner you let go, the better. Redundancies are business decisions, so accept that it is out of your control and try not to take it personally.
- Encourage positive thoughts. When faced with challenges, we can be prone to negativity. Accept this natural emotion, then try to encourage positivity by engaging in activities that help you think clearly and optimistically.
- Start talking to people. The sooner you start networking, the better. If you’re not on LinkedIn, now is a great time to create a profile. Invite colleagues to connect and let them know you are seeking new opportunities.
- Get your finances in order. Depending on your financial situation, you may need to seek financial advice or talk to your bank about loans. Do this quickly, so you have one less thing to worry about.
- Maintain a routine. Treat Monday to Friday like a working week. Dress like you are leaving the house and establish a schedule. Aim to complete some job search tasks every day – these might include networking with old colleagues, searching for jobs online, talking to recruitment agencies, polishing your resume or working on your interview skills.
- Think about your future. Ask yourself if you are in the right career. Is your market in good shape? Think about whether you could undertake study or work towards diversifying your skills.
- Seek professional help. Career Consultants provide independent advice and up-to-date information on current job markets. They can help with career transition by advising how to position yourself in the market, identify job opportunities and present yourself effectively to employers. They’ll also help boost confidence and ease some of the anxiety.
- Polish your Resume. Revamp your resume or enlist a professional to prepare a resume and cover letter for you. If you’re applying for government positions, you may need assistance preparing Selection Criteria. Having a professional document you feel proud to send out will also help boost your confidence.
- Start looking for a new job. As quickly as possible, think about what your perfect job looks like. Research job sites and the careers sections on individual company’s websites. Meet with recruitment companies, and talk to colleagues about who you could approach for assistance. Then start applying!
- Practice your interview skills. You could enlist a professional or simply think about the types of questions that may be asked in an interview situation. Devise your perfect answers, and practice responding so you feel more confident and prepared.
The period following a redundancy can be stressful, however it is important to look to the future. By all means, take some time out, but try to begin your job search quickly. This will allow you time to achieve the perfect role, rather than becoming desperate and needing to take the first thing that comes along.
If you are struggling following a redundancy, please see our career coaching services. If you are interested in getting assistance from a professional resume writer to prepare a winning cover letter and resume for your next job application, please see our Resume Writing Services. We also offer Outplacement Services to organisations looking to support their employees through redundancy.
While we know many people go through the process, it’s difficult to estimate how common changing careers is, or in fact, how many careers, on average we go through during our lifetime. A job for life is a thing of the past, however changing careers is still a daunting thought for many people. If you’re feeling like you need a change but you’re not sure where to start, follow this step by step plan to get you moving in the right direction.
- STEP 1 – Why – think about why you want a career change – is it really your career you need to change or is it just your job that doesn’t satisfy you? Often people are good at what they do, but the company they work for is not a good fit. It’s important to understand where your issues lie before embarking on a full career change. If it’s the job you dislike, then perhaps a similar job in a different industry or environment would make you happier. If you dislike certain aspects of your job, there might be an opportunity to diversify and take on a role with slightly different responsibilities.
- STEP 2 – What – once you have decided that you do want to change careers, you need to think about what direction you’d like to pursue. If you have no idea, you should think about what you enjoy doing as well as what you’re good at. List your current skills, and think about how you might be able to transfer those to a different area. Many people who come to us for career counselling don’t know what direction they want to head in. They want advice or confirmation that their interest in changing careers is valid and ideas on what direction to take. At this point, it’s important to involve other people – professionals, family, work colleagues you can trust – to help you clarify direction. You could also consider taking a career assessment to better understand your interests, values and personality and help you narrow down your choices.
- STEP 3 – How – from the overview you’ve developed, look at how you can make a change. Research different careers and highlight areas that best suit you and your interests. There are several online resources that might help here. Once you’ve narrowed down your options again, look at job search sites like Seek and MyCareer and identify what experience, knowledge, skills and qualifications you need to succeed.
- STEP 4 – When – start making a plan. You may have a lot to consider before deciding when to make your transition, including financial, family and study considerations. If you need to study, research providers and decide whether you can complete some study part-time while still working. Find out if there is an opportunity for volunteer work to help gain experience. Make a plan that will get you to where you need to be.
Changing careers can be a very rewarding experience, but will probably require strong commitment and activity from you. It may involve a lot of hard work – especially if you have to undertake additional training or study to achieve a required qualification. Take into consideration all the points mentioned above and start planning for a successful career change today.
If you would like assistance from a Career Coach with identifying areas for a career change, see our career counselling services. If you’re interested in discovering your personality type, see our Myers Briggs personality testing.
So you are in job application mode – you’ve created the perfect Resume and Cover Letter and applied for several positions. What next? As part of your job search, you should be preparing yourself for the interview process. Preparation ensures you appear professional and polished to the recruiter, but it also builds your confidence and helps overcome any nerves you might be feeling.
Here’s 5 things to do to help increase your success rate:
1. Prepare for a phone interview – this could happen at any time. Recruiters often make an initial call to screen candidates. Rather than feeling flustered and under pressure, be prepared. Keep a copy of your resume handy, together with a list of jobs you’ve applied for. Go one step further and keep a copy of specific job ads and/or position descriptions, highlighting areas you address well. In an initial phone interview, the recruiter may ask why you’re interested in the role and request you provide some detail about your background. Try to be relevant – hit on a couple of key points that highlight your suitability for this specific role.
2. Appear organised and professional. For the physical interview, dress neatly and appropriate to the company. It’s a good idea to take a copy of your resume, the position description, a pen and note paper. Don’t be afraid to take notes and ask questions during the interview. Asking questions is the perfect opportunity to find out more about the role and the company, as well as providing a chance to highlight your interest in the role and stand out to the recruiter. By researching the company beforehand and preparing a list of relevant questions, you’ll appear professional, prepared and organised – all positives for a potential employer.
3. Be punctual – plan to arrive 15-20 minutes early just in case you have any last minute problems. Research transport/parking prior to the day so you know how long it will take to get there! Punctuality says a lot about your general attitude and arriving a little early gives you the chance to calm your nerves and ensure you are not flustered and rushed when entering the interview.
4. Get over your fear of talking about yourself – be prepared to answer questions about yourself. The interview is about you and your suitability for the role. Brainstorm strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments prior to the interview, and think about examples you can talk about that might demonstrate how you’ve handled different work situations.
5. Research the company and role – take some time to look over the company’s website, social media pages, annual reports, newspaper articles, and anything else you can find. When asked what you know about the company – avoid a blank stare response! Get your hands on the position description and think about the types of questions that might be asked. Knowing a bit about the company and/or the role in advance will help you look proactive and well suited to the role.
Remember that the interview is an important part of the job application process. It is your chance to really stand out from other candidates and show why you’d be ideal for the role. In terms of the interview – a little preparation goes a long way.
If you are interested in getting assistance from an Interview Coach to help you prepare for your next interview, please see our Interview Coaching and Interview Training Services.
Asking questions in an interview provides an opportunity to find out more about the role and the company, but it also gives you the opportunity to showcase your interest and stand out to the interviewer.
In most interviews, you will be asked if you have any questions. Asking no questions can be viewed in a negative light, so you need to come prepared. You can take a notebook containing questions into the interview if you need to. In fact some recruiters I’ve spoken to like candidates to bring notes to an interview (as well as take notes during the interview). Being equipped like this shows commitment, preparation and organisation skills – all positives for a potential employer.
Don’t worry if your prepared questions get answered during the course of the interview, just say something along the lines of “I did have a list of questions prepared, but thanks very much because you’ve answered all of them. I was interested to hear you talk about XYZ though, so can you tell me a little bit more about the impact that has on this role.”
In terms of the types of questions to ask, it really depends on the role and the company. Make sure you research the company and its competitors otherwise you may come across as uninterested. You may get asked “What do you know about us” or something along those lines, so researching for relevant questions will help you prepare an answer for that question as well.
In terms of your specific questions, view it as an opportunity to find out as much as you can about the company and role. Interviews are two way processes – it’s as much about you deciding if the role is right for you, as it is about the employer deciding if you are right for them. Some ideas to get you started:
- Show Interest: Do your homework and find out about the company. Devise question(s) that relate to recent news or events. Start your question by saying “I read about XYZ and wanted to find out more.”
- Training & Development: Ask about the company’s policy on training, development, workshops, seminars, conferences etc.
- Strategic Plans: Ask about the company’s strategic plan, or better yet, have some idea from your research, and ask how it fits with this role/department.
- Structure: Ask why the person is leaving the role OR for a newly created role, where has the work come from?
- Performance Review: Ask about performance review processes, and whether there are any KPIs/targets upon which the role is evaluated. Find out what the role expectations are for the first 6 or 12 months.
- Next Steps: Ask what will happen next, how long the decision is likely to take and whether you might be required for another interview.
I would strongly suggest not focusing your questions on benefits or hours but rather discuss the company, its strategic focus, general direction and/or competitive environment – and how that impacts the role you are applying for.
Remember, you should try to ask at least a few questions to show that you’ve come prepared and you are interested in the role and company. Listen carefully to the interviewer’s answer(s) and, if possible, devise further question(s) in order to expand.
If you are interested in getting help from an Interview Coach to help increase your success rate at interviews, please see our interview training and interview coaching services.
As a professional resume writer, I am often asked this question from clients. My experience indicates that many employers will not even consider candidates who do not include a cover letter with their application – it’s your chance to stand out from other applicants – so the answer is always a resounding YES!
Many clients come to us requesting a ‘general’ cover letter that addresses a variety of roles they would like to apply for in the future. Whilst this can be achieved, I can’t stress enough the importance of specifically targeting your cover letter to individual roles. I always advise clients to modify their cover letter to specifically suit each role they apply for and never just reuse the same letter.
It’s important that the recruiter immediately identifies with you as someone who could do their job well. This means you need to spend some time analysing the role you are applying for and matching the requirements to your own skills and experience.
Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way to making it to the top of the recruiter’s pile:
- Be Succinct – clearly and briefly (no more than one A4 page) highlight why you are an ideal candidate. Do take care not to be too brief though. Don’t simply state that you think you’d be great in the role and refer the recruiter to your attached resume. Provide an overview of your background, summarise the relevant parts of your resume, and identify yourself as perfect for the role.
- Cross Match Your Skills – Sit down with the job ad and/or position description and go through it in detail – work out where your strengths lie. Make notes on all the areas you’d like to focus on. Your cover letter should highlight applicable skills, experiences, qualifications, achievements, projects and general knowledge, then demonstrate (again briefly) how they match the specific requirements of the role.
- Add Value – Take the time to do some research into the company and mention why you would like to work for them – highlight similar roles you’ve held or companies you’ve worked for and how that experience might help you succeed in this role. Make sure you mention relevant achievements or projects.
- Request Contact – Always ensure your contact details are prominent on the cover letter and ask for an opportunity to discuss your experience / background further. Make sure you include your email address and mobile phone number at a minimum.
Don’t mention anything in the cover letter that isn’t mentioned in your resume and focus on ‘what’s in it for them’ – the employer needs to feel compelled to shortlist you for the job – so give them a reason to do so. Good luck!
If you are interested in getting assistance from a professional CV Writer to prepare a winning cover letter for your next job application, please see our CV Writing Services.
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