What are the odds of winning the national lottery?…about the same of getting a job by starting the application letter with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”. Email capabilities have made bulk employment queries too tempting. However, today’s cut throat job industry compels you to submit an application that stands out from the rest.
And this can be achieved using one of the most simple, but rarely used methods – address it to someone in particular and using his full name. If you don’t think this is important, and that your qualifications are enough to get you a job, it might benefit you to know what some Personnel/Human Resources managers have to say about generic job application letters :
“When I have to read 200 applications for one job, I don’t want to see a generic one. I want to see the most specific information you can give me…Take the time to call the company and find out what my name is.”
“I think it’s important to find a personal contact in the company. A person to write to rather than just addressing the letter to the personnel manager. In this day and age, as competitive as it is, I just don’t see anything resulting from a generic employment query. It’s important for the job-searcher to do some research on our company, and indicate in the [cover] letter, how sincere you are about working for our company.”
If you’re still not convinced that you need a separate and personalised cover letter for each job application. Think about what you do with the mail received at home addressed to “the occupant” or “Dear Residents”.
What about Bulk Applications?
Bulk applications tend to lead to other errors and embarrassing situations. It’s amazing the number of people that we call to attend an interview, but they can neither remember who we are or what job they applied for. Imagine what this does to their chances of getting the job!
Remember that some employers receive so many application letters for a specific post that their first screening process depends totally on the construction of the cover letter – without even reading the CV first.
Hear are some tips that will help you to have an application that stands out from the rest, and improve immensely your chances of making a good first impression.
If you use a letterhead for your CV (and you should), use the same letter head for the cover letter. CVs tend to be misplaced. This helps identifying yours, and it’s also good presentation.
Address the letter to a specific person and use their title. Personnel managers admit that sometimes it’s a good idea to send two copies of your application. One to the personnel manager (or general manager as the case may be) and another one to the departmental manager where the vacancy is. The latter will definitely have a say in the final decision.
If you can’t find out the name and title of the person through literature, just give them a call and ask.
List the exact title of the job and how you found out about it in the introduction. Be specific. Don’t write “I saw your advert”. Some companies spend hundreds of thousands in advertising. If you were referred by someone use their full name and the nature of the relationship with the company.
If you do not know anything about the position, or you are submitting an application for any job opportunities, the best thing you could do is ask to learn something about them. Do not make your application letter sound like a shouted statement “I will work for food”. You are a professional in your area and you should portray yourself as such.
In the body, try to give good reasons why YOU should be hired. Talk about qualifications, related experience and such. If you do not have sufficient experience, say so. But also add that you are willing to learn and work hard for little money. One of the most common mistakes done by people with lack of experience, is to try to come across like they learned everything there is to learn in a summer job two years ago.
Close with a courteous ‘thank you’ and leave yourself open for a phone call.
Specific and personalised cover letters can really help boost your odds of gaining employment interviews, especially if your letter demonstrates the attributes most employers look for in new recruits: sincerity, career focus, attention to detail; and above all, a hard-working, sincere attitude.
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