Your Cover Letter

Your Cover Letter

Your CV is looking polished and now you want to start applying for suitable positions.

Where to from here?

Start by constructing a Cover Letter.
You should always send a cover letter to accompany your CV – unless the job advert specifically states otherwise, or you are filling in an online application.

Your cover letter is an opportunity to give the recruiter a brief glimpse of the potential success you bring with you. Your skills, experience, personality and communication skills – first impressions are key so be honest, genuine and professional.

1) Start with a warm and professional greeting:
This person is considering hiring you, so catch and keep the reader’s interest. Your opening should encourage them to think of you as someone they’d like to work with.
If they have stated their name in the advert, then make use of that, for example:
“Dear Mr. Smith,” or “Dear Lisa,”
If there is no name, then try:
“Dear H.R. Manager,” or “Dear Recruiter,”

Please avoid using generic statements like “to whom it may concern”.

2) Then get to the point:
Your cover letter should be no longer than one page, split into 2 or 3 paragraphs. Be both concise and specific, let the employer know why you’re contacting them and highlight what precise skills and qualities make you a good candidate for the job. It’s a good idea to match your experience and skills to the specified job requirements as closely as possible.

As an example:
“I would like to apply for the position of Head of Advertising you recently posted. I am passionate about advertising and entered the world of printing and advertising as an apprentice. Over the course of my 22-year career, I’ve developed a skill set directly relevant to the advertised role you are hiring for.

Having been involved in press, print and through-the-line advertising, I gained experience in all the different print techniques and am fully up to date on all the older and more modern printing techniques. This has provided me with in-depth project, business, communication, leadership, strategic and critical thinking skills.

3) Your closing paragraph:
Illustrate your enthusiasm for getting the position and your availability. Then conclude with your name and contact details:

“I believe that my personal attributes and qualifications will be an asset to your organisation. Attached you will find my Curriculum Vitae for your consideration. I am available for an interview immediately, and am able to start on 1 May 2021 as required.

Regards,
Mr. T. Davids
087 xxx 0000
xxxxx@gmail.com”

4) Check your information:
Before you send, take one last look at the job description.
Review grammar and spelling several times – please check and double check your spelling, it is critical that you do not make errors. This will create a bad impression with the recruiter and call into question your attention to detail, accuracy and professionalism.
Did you address all of their criteria in your cover letter?
If you were the person hiring for this position, would you hire you?
Does your information align with job requirements?

5) Useful tips:
Do not copy and paste your cover letter, tailor a different cover letter for each position.
Avoid repeating word-for-word the information that is already in your CV.
Include keywords from the job advert where possible – this is especially important to avoid being rejected by the latest screening technology.
Make it clear that you are enthusiastic about the position.
Be clear and professional.

Our next article will deal with the application process.

Stay safe.

The Importance of Your CV, part 3

The Importance of Your CV, part 3

With your personal information complete, it’s time to focus on your career history. Employers are looking for candidates who are good at what they do, so concentrate on your professional experience and highlight your good points.

A) Start with your most recent position:
i) The name of the company you work/ed for
ii) The title you hold/held
iii) If you started in one position and moved to another or received promotions, list these in date order
ABC Company
Project Manager November 2018 – Current
Security Supervisor March 2015 – October 2018
National Emergency Assistant January 2013 – February 2015

iv) Indicate your employment dates, not just the duration of employment
National Emergency Assistant for 2 years, rather state January 2013 – February 2015

B) Then describe :
i) What you did, incorporating your responsibilities
ii) Who you managed
iii) Types of projects you managed
iv) Your achievements – this is an important point as the employer must see what you could bring to the team and why you’re the best choice.
Be as specific as possible, for example, if you state increased sales – what does that really mean? Rather say – I increased sales at the company by 30 percent
v) Give short, career enhancing reasons for why you left each position

If there is a substantial gap in your employment record, indicate the reason – as an example: travelled abroad from April 2013 to March 2014.

C) Lastly, you will need to list at least three references. A reference should be an individual in a supervisory or managerial position to whom you reported – not your priest, family member or friend. Do not include your current employer as it will jeopardize your current position.
i) Provide the full name of your reference
ii) Their contact number, many recruiters require a landline number and not a cellphone number
iii) An email address can be added
iv) The name of the company your reference works for
v) The reference’s title at the company
Mr. A. George
HR Manager
ABC Company
011 000 0001

If the specific position you are applying for requires that you attach a photograph of yourself, ensure it is a relatively recent photo. A professional or neat head and shoulders photo should suffice in most instances. Your favourite photo on Facebook or a night out with the friends is never a good idea.

Remember that a CV is a presentation of you, your employment, skills and abilities and is therefore considered a legal document. Leaving out relevant information or indicating incorrect information can result in your CV being discarded, or even worse – dismissal once employed if it is uncovered. Please ensure that the information is always true and correct.

We hope that you have found these tips and hints to be of value, we wish you success.

Stay safe.

The Importance of Your CV continued

The Importance of Your CV continued

Following on from last week’s article, you have now refined your introduction and gained the recruiter’s attention.

 

The next step is your personal information, keep this short and to the point –

a) Full name
b) Area where you currently live (does not have to be the full street address)
c) Date of birth (you no longer need to provide your ID number)
d) Contact number
e) Email address
f) Gender
g) Marital Status (this is optional)
h) Dependants (this is optional)
i) Drivers Licence
j) Languages
k) Computer skills can also be included here – unless you are involved in the IT industry, then you will need a separate heading

 

You can follow your personal section with interests and hobbies but please be aware that this should tie in to your employment. For instance, if you are applying for a job in tourism – you can include travelling, cooking, etc. Do not include reading variety magazines or watching TV, this creates a negative image so rather do not include this portion in your CV.

 

Then you add a very important section that highlights your skills and competencies. Keep it to 10 or 15 lines, use one or two word points to describe:

a) Work related or hard skills (software development; electrical; law; etc)
b) Soft skills (leadership; communication; honest; etc).

As an example –
CORE SKILLS
Electrical                            Maintenance
Fault finding                     Wiring
Fire fighting                      First aid
Planning                            Computer literate
Adaptable                         Time management
Team player                     Multi-tasker

 

Now it’s time to look at your education. Start with the most recent courses and work your way back to Grade 12 and this should include:

a) The full name of the course / degree / diploma
b) The name of the training institute
c) The year in which you passed
d) Only include the subjects passed if they are relevant to the position or career you are involved in
e) If you have completed various courses, especially in-house, you can put these under one sub-heading.

For example –
QUALIFICATIONS & COURSES
Electrical Engineering N6 Certificate:  ABC College (2011)
Senior Certificate Grade 12:  ABC High School (2008)

Training Courses through In-house:
Fire Fighting
First Aid
Hazard Identification
OHS Act

 

That wraps up the personal side of your CV – next up is employment history, references and job hopping.

Stay safe.

The Importance of Your CV

The Importance of Your CV

Unemployment in South Africa is at an all-time high. Statistics South Africa reports that the unemployment rate stood at 32.5% in the October to December quarter, shockingly this means that 7.2 million people are unemployed.

With so many people looking for a job, where do you start and how do you stand out?

We will assist as much as possible with the steps, and the dos and don’ts of applying for a new job.

The first step is your curriculum vitae. We will cover this over two articles to ensure that you have an in-depth idea of how to structure a winning CV.

  • Go through your CV very carefully and ensure that all your information is accurate. Carefully check that your information is factually correct, as lying on your CV is a criminal offence in South Africa. Employers and agents are also very thorough, if they uncover anything fraudulent they will discard your CV and potentially report your misconduct.

 

  • Check your grammar and spelling, and try to avoid using cliché terms such as ‘Go-Getter; Think Outside of the Box; Go-To Person; Bottom Line; Rockstar; etc’. Do not word your CV in the 3rd person – She, He, Him, Her, for example “He led a marketing team.”

 

  • Use an easy readable font, such as arial or verdana, as cursive and fancy fonts makes it difficult to read. The easier you make your CV to read, the better recruiters will be able to navigate it and pick out the information they need. Keep your CV writing to a three or four page document, do not send out a ten page CV as this will immediately put a recruiter off. Make sure that the formatting opens on all computers by using word or pdf, most employment agencies want CV documents in word format so they can apply their own software to the document. Employers and agency receive thousands of CV’s and they will not go through all the trouble to get your formatting to work.

 

  • Tailor your CV towards a specific field or position. If you have experience in various roles, then edit your CV accordingly. For instance, if you have experience in administration and operations, do not apply as an administrator that highlights your operations skills. If you create a very broad CV in an attempt to fit many roles, you might find that you end up not with none.

 

  • Make an instant impression with your CV, head your CV up with a punchy and persuasive executive summary that will capture readers attention and show them that your CV is worth reading in full. Recruiters will skip past your CV if they do not see the skills they need within the first few seconds so adapt the CV to reflect the requirements needed for the specific role but bearing in mind it must be with your skills set – do not misrepresent your abilities.

 

Next week we will touch on personal information and education.

Stay safe.

Job Scams: Should you Pay?

Job Scams: Should you Pay?

The answer will always be NO!

Asking a jobseeker for money is illegal in South Africa, so scammers use other traps to solicit money. To make it sound more legitimate, some even claim that the payments will be refunded with your first salary. If there is any form of payment involved, it is not a legitimate job.

 

Possible payment traps:

  • Registration or administration fees – You should never pay for joining or registering with an employment agency, employer or online job portal. The claim that a minimal fee is charged for administration and the paperwork involved in getting you registered is entirely untrue. There are ‘recruitment’ agents that will guarantee you an interview or a job in exchange for a payment and once the payment is made, you never hear from them again.
  • ITC or background checks – If a potential employer or agent wants to run background checks on you, it must be done at their cost. They cannot claim this back from you, even with the promise of a job.
  • Uniforms – Do not put down a deposit or pay anything before you are legally employed.
  • Training – Whether it is a payment for training, training material or online training, it is not legal.
  • Visas or work permits – If the position you are applying for requires overboard travel, the employer may claim that you must pay for them to apply for your visa or work permit.

The list goes on … but the bottom line is, do not pay!

 

In closing, we would also like to add a very serious warning – be cautious about positions offered to you from outside South Africa. If you are not using an established company to help you find a job in another country, be extra careful. It has become common practice for people to be lured into smuggling drugs in and out of countries, the pay is very good but not only is it breaking the law, it is very dangerous. Human trafficking is also on the rise with very real life-or-death situations, especially for young adults who are promised modelling contracts and photo shoots. Investigate the company offering you the job, do research, check social media and if something doesn’t look right, rather walk away.

Stay safe!