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The importance of matching your cover letter to key employer criteria

Steph Dacre
04/07/17
Before a prospective employer even gets to your CV they will read your covering letter or email. This is true no matter what job opportunity you might be interested in and it applies to the IT sector as much as it does to any other. 

While you can hone your CV to reflect your skills and personality, you still need to reach the stage where a potential employer will cast their eye over it. That means your cover letter needs to address all of the essential points in a way that is clear, concise and relevant.

An introduction

The correspondence that goes with your CV, whether it is a formal letter or an email, will usually represent your very first contact with a potential employer, and as the old saying goes, 'first impressions count'.  The main pitfall to avoid is treating a covering letter as an afterthought, and the solution is to give it as much attention to detail as you do for your CV. Punctuation, spelling and grammar should be checked as a matter of course, but the other thing to bear in mind is to use it as a clear statement of intent. You demonstrate that you are interested in the role via the process of applying, so you should look to build on that by possibly adding a mutual acquaintance referral or by personalising yourself in a relevant way.

Key skills 

Your education, qualifications, skills and experiences should all be in your CV and repeating them in a covering letter is unnecessary. However, focusing on particular advantages you may have in terms of the key employer criteria for the role in question is perfectly acceptable and may give you the edge needed to mark your CV as one to look into further. You can do this effectively, and in a concise way without going into unnecessary details, if you take the time to find out details regarding the role and the company or organisation you hope to join. For example, if you are proficient in a certain coding language and know that the business uses it, you should highlight that fact. However, you should avoid claiming that you have skills that you cannot back-up in practice, as you will ultimately be found out.

Business-like

A pile of CVs can be a daunting sight for someone looking to fill a vacancy and any reason to thin out the numbers will be welcomed. The real trick of the covering letter is to make sure your CV presents an attractive read and being business-like and professional in your accompanying letter is a sure way to do this. Above all, the way to make sure your cover letter meets key employer criteria is by never taking a 'one size fits all' approach.  A good covering letter is where the wheat is separated from the chaff, and the only way to make sure you are in the right pile is to use it to concisely demonstrate the individual characteristics that set you apart from the competition and which make you perfect for the role.

Read our related blog: 4 of the best ways to prepare for an interview
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