Your cover letter is your chance to market yourself to your potential employer, which is why it’s vitally important that you put out nothing less than a perfect cover letter.
When writing your first cover letter, keep the following in mind:
Keep it short and easy to read
The interviewer must want to read your cover letter so make sure it doesn’t appear too long; break up your text into an intro, a body and a conclusion, and try to keep it short 4 or 5 bite-sized paragraphs will do. Be sure to list details such as your tertiary institution, outstanding achievements or awards.
Never Send The Same Cover Letter
Never recycle cover letters – the interviewer will know and your application won’t get further than the reject pile. For each new application, write a new cover letter tailored to the company and position you are applying to. Include your skills on every cover letter, but ensure that it is relevant to what is required and asked for in the job spec. It might take a bit longer, but it’ll be well worth it in the end.
Never Underestimate The Power Of A Well-written Letter
Spelling and grammar is just as important as the content of your cover letter. Slang, abbreviated terms, misspelt words and incorrect usage of punctuation is a red flag for companies. Read your cover letter with a fine tooth comb and then ask someone else to give it a read too – as second pair of eyes might be the difference between getting an interview and landing up in the reject pile.
Your Cover Letter Must Sell Your CV
The interviewer will look at your cover letter before wanting to look at your CV. The aim of your cover letter is therefore to sell your CV and make the interview curious to see what your CV contains. Use your cover letter to highlight to the interviewer why you are the best candidate for the job.
Never Repeat Your CV In Your Cover Letter
Lots of people assume that a cover letter is just a repetition of your CV – not true. When you send your CV and cover letter off, your cover letter will be in the body of the email. If it’s not interesting enough the recruiter won’t think twice of moving on to the next applicant.
Your cover letter should show positivity, personality and your interest for the job.
Think of the industry you’re applying to and combine history with cool. If you work in the clothing industry for example, you might want to mention how much it has changed since the 70s and how you would like to contribute to the next fashion favourite. This could show expertise and genuine interest in the field.
Less is more
Keep your cover letter short – three paragraphs max and no longer than half a page. Forget long winded sentences. Keep it interesting and to-the-point.
Address someone, but keep it general
If you don’t know who you should address your cover letter to, simply say, “To whom it may concern” and get right into your introduction.
Your cover letter should be the body of your email
When you apply for a job vacancy, you should never leave the email body blank. That is your space to let recruiters know why they should open your CV and consider you for the job.
Never use the phrase below
“My name is ___, and I am applying for the position as ____”. Recruiters and hiring managers already know these things and it’ll make you sound inexperienced.
Craft a strong conclusion
Don’t start your closing line with “In conclusion”; it’s not a high school essay. Finish your cover letter off quickly. Simply explain why your experience will help you get the job done. Make sure the closing paragraph is no longer than two or three lines.
Why You Shouldn’t Lie On Your Resume
Lying does not pay, is the clear message for job applicants who exaggerate on their CVs, following a recent Labour Appeal Court (LAC) judgment.
In the case of the Department of Home Affairs and another vs Ndlovu and others, the court held that employers may be justified in dismissing employees who have created false impressions regarding their qualifications and skills on their CVs. “There is a distinct increase in exaggerations and lying on CVs in the workplace and this case is sending a very important message to job applications” said Varusha Pillay of Shepstone and Wylie Attorneys employment law department.
She said lying on CVs often takes place where an applicant is desperate at least to secure an interview with the prospective employer. “Employers are well advised to take note of the judgment and verify the information set out in a job applicant’s CV” The case at hand dealt with an employee who applied for a post as an area manager for Kwazulu Natal and Richards Bay. According to his CV, the applicant claimed to have a bachelor of technology, marketing, from the Durban Institute of Technology.
On the strength of his CV and claimed qualifications, the person was appointed to the post. It then came to the attention of the employer that the employee had not attained his bachelor of technology marketing degree. The employee was charged with several acts of misconduct and was dismissed.
Following his dismissal, the employee referred an unfair dismissal dispute to the Bargaining Council. After arbitration proceedings the arbitrator held that the employee’s dismissal was fair. The dismissed employee then approached the Labour court with an application to set aside the arbitrator’s decision.
The Labour Court held that the employee’s dismissal was unfair and ordered the Department of Home Affairs to reinstate him with back pay. In response, the Department of Home Affairs appealed this decision. The Labour Court held that the employee lied on his CV with intention of impressing the panellists to secure the job. The LAC reiterated that employment relationships are founded on trust and as such, it was fair for the Department of Home Affairs to terminate the employment.
My response to this, is that companies utilise reputable recruitment consultancies such as Pronel to avoid finding themselves employing someone who has misrepresented their qualifications. Pronel conducts thorough reference checking and qualification verifications. Only candidates who fully meet the clients requirements after all the relevant checking has been conducted are referred to the client for interview.
You’d be surprised how many job seekers choose to omit certain incriminating information. You’d be equally surprised to find out how many people amplify their suitability for vacant positions. CV fraud is rife and be warned, it’s illegal too. Jenny Reid, CEO of background screening company iFacts, says that CV fraud is the same as regular fraud, and perpetrators could therefore face jail time or end up with a criminal record.
If you didn’t include some of your employment history on your CV because it’s not related to the position you’re applying for, don’t worry. You’re supposed to be selective and only mention those positions relevant to the vacancy to sell yourself properly. You can simply mention the discarded fluff to your employers whenever and explain the reason for its exclusion – they’ll understand.
However, you can get into big trouble with the law if you’re one of the people that has:
- Added a few years to how long you’ve stayed with previous companies
- Made up and added an extra position or two (or three or four…) that you’ve never held
- Added a few zeros to your previous salary to justify your new salary expectation
- Added responsibilities that you’ve never had
- Claimed to be registered with a national professional body when you aren’t
- Claimed to have any kind of academic qualification when you’ve never completed the course
If Your CV Currently Contains Any Of The Above, Here’s What You Should Do:
We advise that you run to your manager immediately. Explain the entire situation. If you have a good history with the company, it might surprise you how lenient they are.
If you’re only just landed an interview (thanks to your lies), your best bet is to be honest. Correct all the errors, apologise for the oversight, and try to win them over by explaining why you’re suitable for the position anyway. Dazzle them with your awesomeness.
To avoid the consequences of confessing, then opt to withdraw your application as soon as possible. You won’t have to explain why and how and all that. Of course you run the risk of losing the position but at least you won’t have to worry about the risk of them finding out afterwards – which is worse because it’ll ruin your professional reputation in the process.
Don’t forget to update your CV immediately and apply elsewhere with your new and improved honest CV. Don’t forget to update your online CV too.
‘Not deciding’ is in effect also a decision. Good luck with living a life constantly having to look over your shoulder.
Hoping that you don’t get caught is nothing more than wishful thinking. Yes, the rest of your life. Because even after you leave that company, you’re still sitting with a dodge CV that got you hired into a position you’re not qualified for. You’ll have to lie for the rest of your life. And not make any enemies because they will seek, find and unleash all the skeletons in your closet.
You should watch Suits in anticipation of Mike Ross’s inevitable downfall. And if you think yours isn’t coming, have a look at these 6 who once thought that too…
1. SABC Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, reportedly lied about having a matric qualification
2. “Dr” Daniel Mtimkulu, Chief Engineer at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), reportedly lied about his qualifications.
3. Pallo Jordan, former Minister of Arts and Culture has already admitted that he fabricated his degrees.
4. Ellen Tshabalala, former Chairperson of the SABC never completed her BComm degree.
5. SA Airways board Chairperson, Dudu Myeni admitted to not having her Bachelors degree.
6. South Africa’s ambassador to Japan, Mohau Pheko, has admitted to lying about having a doctorate.
Not even government officials and higher ups at South African parastatals get away with fabricating the qualifications on their CVs. How embarrassing.
Lying on your CV is definitely not the way to go. You may think that getting a job is most important but it’s actually your future success that’s much more important. Too often, we make decisions for instant gratification and fail to realise its long term effects.
Courtesy of Careers 24