As a former business manager and now recruitment specialist, I am constantly surprised by the total lack of care many job applicants apply to their résumés, CVs and covering letters.
Candidates do not seem to realise that the old adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” applies just as much to the written word as it does to your personal appearance.
When posting a job advertisement, I always ask applicants for a covering letter. Why is that? The answer is really simple: to find out what the applicant’s attention to detail is like, and how well they respond to the requirements of the role I am seeking to fill. You would be amazed that, having asked for one, over 50% of applicants still do not bother to supply one – sorry folks, automatic delete.
These days it is easy to have a résumé or CV created by a professional service provider, putting in all the details of previous employment, education, career highlights and so on. You would expect, therefore, that that document would be “word perfect.” However a covering letter provides the applicant with an opportunity to provide the reader with details of why they should be considered over and above other applicants, what they can bring to the position, how they might do that and many other “positives” that would make this person worth considering. In some instances it can be more important than the CV. In most instances, it also means the applicant has to write it themselves, and that is where many of them come unstuck.
Recently, on behalf of a client, I advertised for an “Administrator/Receptionist.” Along with other criteria for the role, good attention to detail was listed. I advertised on the most popular job listing website and, as per normal, asked for a covering letter “explaining why this is the right role for you.” Without identifying anyone, and changing only names where necessary, here are some verbatim examples of what I received either in the covering letter, or in the accompanying email. Also note that I am a stickler for correct spelling and grammar.
- Hello i seen your ad on seek that you have a receptionist position available. I attatched my resume.
- Re: Administration Asstiant
- I would like to apply for a position as junior assistant as …
- APPLICATION FOR Customer Service Consultant
- … my job application for the Receptionist/Officer Junior …
- Attention – Joe Bloggs (name changed)
Re: Application for Trainee Recruitment Consultant position
Dear Mr Joe Bloggs (name changed)
Not only were words misspelled, or grammar incorrect, but fonts varied widely in the same letter, or in one case, the same paragraph. And who can excuse the last example above, the wrong person and wrong company – via the automated system on the job board website.
The reason that I am putting all of this down in writing is that I genuinely would like to see people get the jobs they are looking for, but they have to help themselves, and the first place to start is by creating a good impression and spending quality time on a good written presentation.
If you would like help in this area, please contact me.