CV & Cover Letter
Probably the most important presentation of your life
Your CV is so important, we've devoted a whole section to it . This time however, you need to be twice as sharp in putting it together - there is no support between you and the person you are applying to. Make sure that your "sell" is relevant to the position, particularly your education and experience. If it isn't, find an angle to prove it is.
Next, your door-opener
Of all the tools you'll deploy in your proactive job search, the sharpest MUST be your CV cover letter. In a few short paragraphs on a single sheet of A4 paper, it is your whole speculative pitch to a company that does not know your skills or qualifications and is currently NOT ADVERTISING.
Understand that your cover letter was not asked for, nobody knows you exist, and everybody is busy. Now for the reality. Cover letters are scanned, not read - skimmed for keywords that are relevant to the company's needs - accepted or rejected on a snap decision. There is no margin for error.
Make sure that:
- You have the right contact name - phone up and find out exactly who takes the decisions on the job you're after. "Dear Sir/Madam" won't crack it.
- You say who you are - nobody knows you, the courtesies are all yours.
- You spell out what you can offer - don't be shy, this is your one chance.
- You have a relevant "hook" - your Unique Selling Proposition that only you can deliver. Tie this quality directly to the job role in as many ways as you can.
- You ask for an interview - without it, all your effort is lost.
- You underline how and when you will follow up - it's your show, and you're the stage manager. Leave it to chance and it probably won't happen.