You’re almost there! After weeks of heavy job searching, you’re almost there! You’ve perfected your resume (CV). But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job advert requires a cover letter. Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter?
Your cover letter is a tool to help introduce yourself in a memorable, personal way during a job application. Your CV is intended to lay out the facts, but your cover letter is meant to convey more personality. This means that your cover letter shouldn’t be a repetition, but should zoom in on a few key skills and experiences on your CV that the employer values the most.
A Great Cover Letter Can Get You Past the interview. Even the best CV in the world is useless if it doesn’t get opened, so you need to ensure that you have a strong cover letter that encourages recruiters to open yours. A bad cover letter, on the other hand, might mean that your application is going directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.
The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative, or even any good at writing. All you must do is follow this simple format:
• Header – Your contact information/address
• Greet the hiring manager. If the job advert has a name to address the cover letter to, use it!
e.g.: “Dear Ms Dlamini”.
If you don’t get the name, you can use a job title e.g.: “Dear Human Resources Manager”.
• Opening paragraph – Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements that notes how your skills are a perfect fit for the job
• Second paragraph/Hook – Highlight your past achievements as they relate to the job you’re applying for and why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
• Third paragraph/Skills – Emphasise additional relevant skills, such as computer languages or certifications, and why you’re a good match for the company
• Formal closing
e.g.: “For any queries regarding my application, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am looking forward to being interviewed for the position.”
Dishonesty on your cover letter or CV isn’t in your best interest. Please get a second opinion to also oversee grammatical errors that are costly.
Sending a cover letter online via email
When sending your cover letter, do ensure that your cover letter and CV are saved in a PDF format.
Before you send that application, you will need a professional email address. We often see addresses such as ‘Mrcoolguy@gmail.com’ or ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. Consider obtaining a free email account from a provider, such as Gmail and keep your job application emails separate from your personal email. Preferably use your name as part of a professional email address.
The dangers of lying on your CV or Cover Letter
Have you ever thought about lying so that you have a better chance of getting that job? The simple answer is; don’t do it! Lying on your CV is not only unethical, but also has legal implications for you.
Contrary to popular belief, most people don’t lie to get a job; they do it to win an interview. People often lie about or exaggerate their experience, previous salaries or qualifications. They hide career gaps and reasons for leaving previous employment. Some even lie about their references. As employers nearly always call these for verification purposes; this is where many work-seekers are caught in a lie.
When you are applying for a job or going for an interview, it is important to sell yourself; highlight your strengths and achievements and put your best foot forward. You are good enough! Be proud of the good work you have done, the qualifications you have or the skills and experience you gained, but remember to only take credit for things you actually did.
The truth always comes out, and you don’t want to get caught in a lie after you have worked so hard to get where you are.
What are the consequences of lying in your CV or Cover Letter?
If you lied to get the job, the employer may realise you’re unable to carry out the role sufficiently. This will raise their suspicions and possibly lead to an investigation. Here are some events that might happen if you get caught lying on your CV:
• The employer may immediately reject your job application if you are still in the recruitment process
• They might also blacklist your name with recruitment agencies and other companies in the industry
• If they find out while you’re on the job, it could result in immediate dismissal and fraud charges
• In extreme cases, you might even face prosecution and imprisonment
• Also consider the personal effects; the shame and humiliation you may feel when your friends, family and co-workers find out
In certain industries, like the financial sector, civil society organisations, prison service or when working with children or vulnerable people, employers carry out rigid checks on all new staff. So, you won’t get past the strict screening process if you lie in your application.
Experienced hiring managers have seen it all before. They know the key areas that jobseekers are most likely to tell lies about. And, in the age of the internet and social media, they can quickly uncover the truth.
The new National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act 2019, recently signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, means prospective students or job seekers could face up to 5 years in jail for lying about their qualifications. Under this new law, lying about your qualifications on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter could also lead to jail time.
Ultimately, if you resort to lying in your CV or cover letter, you’ll have to live with the stress, uncertainty and the daily risk of knowing that what you’ve done is wrong. You’ll constantly be looking over your shoulder and worrying that you’ll be caught out.
Honesty is always the best policy. Write a winning CV and a great cover letter in which you highlight all your strengths and the qualifications and experience that you’ve worked so hard for. Once you have done this, you know that you have done your best and that your chances of getting an interview for that job are as good as you are able to make them. Although there will be other competitors for the job, you will know that your honesty and hard work will shine through and hopefully give you the edge. All employers love integrity; a quality that is priceless.
Thanks to the Harambee Team for content support.
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