Delicious cover letters with tasty selection criteria Chris Downey, Brisbane City Council Imagine you are making a cake, which you hope to enter into a cooking competition You collect some ingredients Eggs, Flour, Sugar, Butter You mix the ingredients, put in pan, and place in the oven When the cake is cooked, you take it out the oven, and let it cool. You add some icing, and place the cake in a nice tin On the day of the cooking competition, the winners are announced… 1 st place nd 2 place 3rd place You didn’t win any of them. What did I do wrong you think to yourself? It was tasty and looked nice Imagine … a cover letter is a cake …key selection criteria are the Ingredients … the cooking competition is gaining an interview Objectives • Explore how create the most delicious cover letter that employers will enjoy • Explore the ingredients to effectively addressing key selection criteria The problem… • Chances are, there are plenty of people that may have the right ingredients (just like most people can cook a decent cake) The opportunity •You need to discuss how you FIT with the role more than any other candidate (you make the best tasting cake!!) Selection Criteria: Exactly what you are supposed to FIT with! Showing “FIT” • Link your previous experience to the role requirements by drawing similarities (same company size, similar equipment, similar projects, similar stakeholders etc.) •Make clear comparisons between your international experience and what is expected in the company (make your overseas experience seem like a “value add”) •Mention your English competencies within a work environment (e.g. experience with “international consultancies”, reports often written and presented in English Showing “FIT” • Provide strong examples of how you have applied your skills (including achievements) •Show you understand their business now and the future (RESEARCH!) •The most important it to demonstrate how you meet the selection criteria!! How to Identify Selection Criteria Typical Structure of Job Ads 1. 2. 3. About the company/industry The role: duties/responsibilities What they are looking for = SELECTION CRITERIA! • SEEK AD Selection Criteria - Things to watch out for • Many different ways a recruiter can include selection criteria in the job ad • Many different ways a recruiter can ask you to respond to selection criteria – read the ad carefully! – “Include your resume and cover letter with your applications (you are not required to address selection criteria)” – “Outline your ability to meet the selection criteria for this role in less than two pages” • Whether it is stated clearly or not, a recruiter is assessing you against a set of criteria Writing the Cover Letter • Refer to the Job Ad Instructions Unless otherwise instructed: • • • • Respond with examples where possible: use the SAO method. Aim for 1-2 Selection criteria per paragraph. Give only relevant information in your response. Respond to all selection criteria to show BEST FIT • Always show how you fit the role. • Always tailor your application. Writing the Cover Letter: Key points • Expression of interest in the role • A personal advertisement • Spell out your key attributes in relation to the role using same language • Make direct links between your ability and the Key Selection Criteria • Never send the exact same cover letter for two different jobs! Writing the letter: The Structure There is no “one right way” but…. 1. Introduction – An expression of interest & Key points regarding your FIT 2. Body – More detailed response to selection criteria (including examples) 3. Conclusion and invitation to review resume Introduction: Paragraph 1 Ashraya Mavani 123 Jump St, South Brisbane QLD 4101 (p) (07) 3372 1234 (m)0455216216 (e) [email protected] 22 January 2013 Terry Samson Recruitment Manager NRG consulting Dear Terry, Please accept my application for the position of Senior Engineer within NRG (Job no: 828971) as advertised on the seek website on 21st January, 2013. Introduction: Paragraph 2 I am an xxx Professional currently working as a xxx. I completed an xxxx at xxxxxxxxxxxx in 2009, specializing in xxxxxxxxxxx, and have gained 4 years experience (including 18 months Australian experience) xxxxxxxxxx focussed roles. Example I am an Engineering Professional currently in search of an senior engineering role within a large resources company. I completed a Bachelor of Civil Engineering in 2005, and have since gained 5 years experience providing detailed design, site supervision, project management and leadership on a wide range of resources projects with budgets exceeding $2 million dollars. I am now looking for an opportunity to immediately apply my strengths gained over the last 5 years to the context of the Australian Engineering environment. The Body The Body of the Cover Letter…. • Your opportunity to really convince the recruiter that you are the ideal candidate for the role (the ideal FIT) • HOW: – Address the selection criteria using examples wherever possible – Use the SAO method Response to Selection Criteria: Body of Letter The SAO Method In answering each requirement and providing an example you may wish to adopt the SAO approach: • • • Situation –outline the situation/environment Action – clearly identity what action you took and your role Outcome – what was the outcome from your action Keep your application clear, concise and accurate. It is important to comply with any word or page limits. Response to Selection Criteria: SAO example Criterion: Experienced in working collaboratively with managers on projects in a team environment Situation While working as a Senior Pavement Design Engineer in ABC Engineering, I was responsible for developing a rehabilitation plan and preparing all technical reports for the repair, upgrade and maintenance of a 180km highway. Situation While working as a Senior Pavement Design Engineer in ABC Engineering, I was responsible for developing a rehabilitation plan and preparing all technical reports for the repair, upgrade and maintenance of a 180km highway. Actions – Selection Criteria In order to do this I communicated and negotiated with the client to clarify their expectations and requirements, as well as conducted meetings with managers to present technical explanations and source the most cost and time effective solutions for the project. Situation Actions – Selection Criteria While working as a Senior Pavement Design Engineer in ABC Eng, I was responsible for developing a rehabilitation plan and preparing all technical reports for the repair, upgrade and maintenance of a 180km highway. In order to do this I communicated and negotiated with the client to clarify their expectations and requirements, as well as conducted meetings with managers to present technical explanations and source the most cost and time effective solutions for the project. Outcomes As a result of my contribution, the proposed plans were accepted and the project was completed with a higher level of technical accuracy and viability, which led to its completion within deadlines and $580,000 below budget. Selection Criteria Sample Structure Situation = “In my previous role as……”, “I was responsible for ……” Action = “In order to achieve this, I …… …… …… ……” Outcomes = “The result of this was ……” Conclusion: Final Paragraph • Further express your suitability and interest in the role. • Invite reader to view attached documents. • Sign off. Example I am keen to apply my advanced project management skills and strengths to the Senior Engineer position at NRG and believe my knowledge, skills and experience will be an asset in this role. My resume outlining my various skills and experience, together with the names and telephone numbers of referees is attached. I would be pleased to attend an interview to discuss my application and can be contacted at the above address or telephone numbers to arrange a time. Yours sincerely, Ashraya Mavani Writing the Cover Letter • Refer to the Job Ad Instructions Unless otherwise instructed: • • • • Respond with examples where possible: use the SAO method. Aim for 1-2 Selection criteria per paragraph. Give only relevant information in your response. Respond to all selection criteria to show BEST FIT • Always show how you fit the role. • Always tailor your application. Frequently asked questions How many of the key selection criteria do you need to address in your cover letter? Frequently asked questions What are recruiter’s hoping to find in your cover letter that they can’t find in your resume? Frequently asked questions What is more important to a recruiter in a cover letter? a) Your ability to do the role (skills) OR b) Your interest in the role (passion) Join the MEIP program! Email: [email protected] Free assistance with resume, cover letter and interviews! One last thing… If you do make a delicious cake, please save me a piece!