So many job applications nowadays oblige you to complete pages and pages of forms and don’t give you the chance to add anything uniquely personal about why you are applying for the job. However, sometimes there is a box which acts as a “cover letter”, asking you which skills you have which match the job, or why your profile fits. Take full advantage of it! This is the place to go to town and really reflect on how you suit the vacancy.
As a recruiter in a large organization I had hundreds of CVs to check before I started short-listing. As time was scarce, I could only check that the person had the “required” qualifications before reading any further. If they did not, the application simply went in the bin. However, once this stage was complete, I would scan the applications in much more detail, checking the language used by the candidate, checking the dates of each job and college year for consistency and finally reading the reason for their application.
This was of course the most interesting task in short-listing for me as a recruiter and as a psychologist. I want to know what makes the person tick. Are they simply applying to get any job or is this specific vacancy the job of their dreams? If so, why? I like to see that the candidate has thought about what they have written, not just presented a shopping list of reasons ( I like people, I can speak French, I type very well) or a bundle of superlatives about themselves which can never be proved (eg I would make a marvellous manager because I am an excellent communicator). If the cover letter reflects some of the language presented in the job description, this can support their application, but if it is word for word the same this makes it unbelievable. The best approach is simply to say what attracts you to the job, why you have chosen this organization, what you could contributein this role and then give a couple of examples of achievements you have made which demonstrate that you could be the right person. You are just trying to increase the potential employer’s curiosity enough for them to invite you to interview!
Once you are satisfied with your cover letter, read and re-read it many times before clicking the button. Get someone else to check it for you – quite often we miss silly little errors which could be the only thing standing between you and an interview for the job of your dreams.