Given the current climate in the job market, I thought I would revisit a previous post on Speculative Cover Letters with an added suggestion to what is already there. As well as searching job advertisements for clues to what potential employers are looking for, it would also be useful to visit the website of the company you are applying to. Take a look at their values, their mission statement, how they say they operate and speak to that in your cover letter, e.g. if safety is one of their stated values and you have been part of a team that achieved a safety award, include that in your letter.
When writing cover letters in response to advertised jobs, the most important thing to remember is to respond to the stated selection criteria. One way to maintain your focus to ensure you do this is to type the selection criteria into your letter document in bold. Once you have completed your letter, you just delete the selection criteria headings out of your document. Makes it so much easier to stay on track.
When writing cover letters, the most common mistake made, is the applicant telling the potential employer what they think the employer wants to know, rather than responding to what the employer has asked for. So what do you write in a cover letter when you are approaching a company where no job has been advertised, i.e., what do you write in a speculative cover letter? One useful approach is to go to online employment, career and recruitment sites and search for jobs that match your existing job title or the job title for the type of work you are seeking. Don’t just look at one or two, look at least a dozen, if not more. Note the qualifications, training, licences and key selection criteria that are most commonly sought across these jobs at this time. Match the results to those that are reflected in your knowledge, skills and experience and which you can provide examples or proof of. Now write your letter focusing on their mostly commonly sought requirements matched with your qualifications and background, remembering to keep your letter succinct, preferably one page in length, but no more than two.
Using the word ‘hope’ in a Cover Letter can imply desperation, a sense of begging or lack of confidence. Experiment with better ways to say what you want to say.