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Cover Letter Dos and Don’ts

You have found the job of your dreams, researched the role and the company and perfected your CV. Wait, and you still have to write your cover letter, right? Yes you do!

Do not underestimate the importance of the cover letter, it works simultaneously with your CV to reflect and highlight the skills you have outlined.

A well written cover letter will help you to stand out and increase your chances of the recruitment manager remembering you.

We know how daunting application writing can be, so we are sharing our top dos and don’ts.

Do:

  • Research the role and the company before you start writing
  • Have a clear structure; use paragraphs and an easy to read font
  • Have an opening sentence with a positive tone that also signals that you are applying for this specific role `I am writing to apply for….’
  • Highlight why you are interested in the role, and what is attractive about the company
  • Let them know why they should interview you by summarising your strengths and skills that make you the best candidate to do that job
  • Your skills and strengths should be tailored to the requirements and objectives set out in the job description
  • Emphasise what you can do for the company, you can outline a career goal that meets with the company’s objectives or expand on the key skills in your CV
  • Thank the employer for their time and that you look forward to hearing from them
  • If you start with `Dear name’ you should end with `yours sincerely’ and if you start with `Dear Sir/Madam’ you should end with `yours faithfully’.
  • Check your spelling and grammar not once, but twice or three times  

Don’t:

  • Send a generic, untailored cover letter
  • Write more than one page. The aim of a cover letter is to summarise concisely why you are applying for the role, why you are the right candidate for the job and why you want to join the organisation
  • Use creative fonts, colours, abbreviations
  • Include unnecessary personal information or skills/qualifications not specific to the job
  • Include your salary preferences or requirements unless asked by the employer
  • Generalise or be too casual in tone. Instead be specific in how you have excelled in previous roles
  • Write without having researched the company and what your role involves
  • Send your cover letter without checking you have addressed it to the right company and contact

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Ten Things you should never say in an Interview

Ten Things

Interviews can be scary and sometimes we say things which we really shouldn’t! Here are ten things you should never say in an interview.

  1.  ‘I don’t know – If you don’t know the answer to a question ask them to re-phrase it. ‘I don’t understand’ is ten times better than ‘I don’t know’. If the question they ask is something like ‘Where do you see yourself in five years’ time’ definitely don’t say ‘I don’t know!’ Talk about your career plan, your ideal future, anything but ‘I don’t know.’
  2. I hate my old boss! – Imagine how this looks to a prospective new boss. Answer: not good. It’s not the right attitude and it isn’t the right etiquette for an interview. No matter the circumstances with regards to the parting of the ways, you should never bad-mouth professionals to other professionals, particularly in interviews!
  3. ‘What is your sick leave and absence policy? – This is a worrying thing for an interviewer to hear. If you’re asking about time off before you’ve got the job then why employ you in the first place? If you have a long-term illness or an unwell family member/friend under your care, then by all means let the employee know, if they need too, but never ask about sick/absence policy during an interview.
  4. What does your company do?’ – Not only does this show poor preparation it also shows lack of interest. If an interviewer has one job and five applicants, and you ask this question then they are not going to employ you. Even if you have the best CV. Understanding your prospective role in a company and having knowledge of the company itself is crucial to surviving in a job, not to mention an interview. You should always prepare for an interview by looking at the company’s website and the job description given!
    Interviews
  5. I just want a job!’ – Many of us have been in that situation when all you want is a job or a change of scene, but saying this in an interview is unsuitable and off-putting. It will make the interviewer doubt whether you are there because you are genuinely interested in the position, or if you are simply trying to earn a wage.
  6. *BEEP* – Don’t swear! It will make you come across as aggressive, rude and inappropriate. You’ll put off your interviewer and may well end the interview early, depending on the severity of the language and the context it is in.
  7. Where did you get your shoes?!’ – There is a time and place for questions and compliments like this – the interview room is not one of them! It is distracting and inappropriate, and if shoes (or other physical attributes) are the first thing on your mind when you enter an interview then you won’t come across as professional or good candidate material.
  8. No, I don’t have any questions – This shows a lack of interest! If the interviewer has been incredibly thorough throughout the interview, or your mind goes blank from an information overload, ask them to repeat something – the wage range, what training is offered, who you will report to etc. It shows regard whereas simply asking nothing will bring the interview to an abrupt end, and it can quickly become awkward with you coming across as disinterested. Not the lasting impression you want.
  9. I’m Motivated, Reliable, Organised, Creative & Intuitive’ – Never say just these 5 things when asked ‘Describe yourself in 5 (+/-) words’, they are over-used and almost always a cover for not knowing how to answer. Instead of these use less-used or more exciting adjectives like: ambitious, punctual, honest, confident, diligent…among others. Stand out from the crowd and mean what you say!
  10. So when do I start?’ – Be confident Yes! Arrogant no!

For more tips about jobs and interviews make sure you follow Atwood Tate on all our social media: @AtwoodTate, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn! 

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