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Cover letters: communicating with impact

Shayna Main LSE Careers

This session
Cover letters should be recruiter-centred How to approach competency and motivation sentences Tips on language, sentences and structure Common pitfalls
NB points covered today are relevant to completion of questions on on-line applications

Recruiter-centred
Put yourself in readers shoes 50-100 cover letters to read Really happy when cover letters are
Relevant Easy to read Short & concise Interesting & specific

Recruitercentred applications
Think about reader Who is he/she? Purpose of cover letter? Think about job What are most important requirements? Identify from speaking to recruiter, company website or other research What are your main messages? Motivated, competent & achievement-oriented Someone who should definitely be interviewed

Competence to do the job or be trained


based on your experience to date use matrix to generate ideas & evidence

Demonstrating skills to employers


Competencies Grid Academic Work Extra Curricular Interests

Teamwork
Leadership Problem solving Verbal Communication Resilience Adaptability Innovation

Cover letter matrix


Competency
Analysis / analytical thinking

Evidence
I conducted market and competition analysis for (purpose) when I worked at x.. My results were used in / contributed to... During x vacation I worked in x company and updated client data base by calling 120 clients in Germany and France..

Verbal communication

Teamwork

Leadership

Competency exercise
What we are looking for Example from company website Identify 2 competencies the recruiter is looking for (may be implied). Write 2 or 3 sentences to demonstrate you have that competency
NB when making your own applications ensure you research the website thoroughly

Writing efficiently and effectively


Active not passive
A decision was made by the team to.. The team decided to..

Verbs more than nouns


Changed not Made changes to Reduced not Led to a reduction in

Sentences
structure: subject + verb + object 15 -25 words one idea = one sentence

Writing efficiently and effectively


Be specific 91% better than a large percentage Names Senior managers not senior management First word of paragraph Try to avoid I every time

Motivation exercise
In pairs Think of a job you really want to do Tell your partner what it is and 3 reasons why you would like this job Partner to write down reason(s) Together turn it into a motivation paragraph

Connecting with organisation


The role of public finance and credit rating plays an increasingly important role in public management in Africa, an area I am strongly interested in. This is why I consider role x at y best way to pursue my career. I am motivated to work with leaders, and X strikes me as the ideal place to do this, both in terms of business leaders who make up Xs client list, and the consultants who work in X.

Structure ICME!
Introduction
Position you are applying for, where advertised

Competence
2 or 3 key selling points relevant and supported by the CV

Motivation
Why you want the job, why you want to work for company

Ending
Positive close thanks, enthusiasm, looking forward

Four or five paragraphs

Common pitfalls
Too long or too short one page only Just repeats content of CV Contains information not supported by the CV Spelling and grammatical errors. Apostrophes Is generic- not targeted Rambling with no structure Contains negative information Has too many adjectives and adverbs Is either too formal or informal

A powerful cover letter..


Focuses on the recruiter Highlights relevant education, competencies and experience Highlights ability to achieve results Provides evidence of communication skills Communicates interest and motivation through specific examples Short, concise, easy to read
Tip: read it out loud, ask someone else to read it

Resources
LSE Careers website: http://www.lse.ac.uk/intranet/CareersAndVacancies/careersSe rvice/CVCoverApps/CoverLetters/Home.aspx Look at Cover Letter resources in this section of website, contains many links eg Guardian careers Prospects. ac.uk Making Applications AGCAS booklet The Global Resume and CV Guide, Mary Anne Thompson, Wiley, 2001 book advice session or CV / cover letter check via Career Hub CV and Cover letter resources in LSE Careers, 3rd Floor, Tower 3

Any questions??