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Cover Letters

Applying for a Job

There is much excitement that comes with applying for a new job. But there is also much to consider in the process.

What do you want to convey to the employer?

What is the employer looking for?

How will you stand out from the, often hundreds of, applicants?

Prepare

Read each job advertisement carefully. Find the buzz or key words and use these when creating your letter of application or cover letter. This also assists with applicant tracking software (ATS) that some employers use to scan, filter and cull applications.

Ensure you pay close attention to the selection criteria, both essential and desirable and any additional things that are required in your application.

Note the closing date and where possible try and submit prior to the close date. This ensures you don’t miss the date or time and if anything happens you have time to complete it.

Start drafting

For each role or job, you need to create a new application. This includes new covering letters. Ensure that you address the person who is undertaking the recruitment in your letter. For example, avoid “to whom it may concern” or “dear sir/madam” if it states the name of the hirer. Also, don’t assume the gender of the employer.

If there are essential selection criteria that you do not meet, for example, hold a drivers’ licence, consider whether you could reasonably do the job without one. If the position is for a mobile dog washing service then it may not be appropriate to apply, however if the job is for a dog groomer working in one location a licence may not be necessary and you may choose to apply anyway. If you’re not sure, you can contact the employer to discuss this, however it may lead to disclosing your disability.

Disclosure is a very personal and complex topic and different people feel differently about it at different times. We discuss disclosure in more detail in a later section.

Your cover letter should explain briefly how you match the job description, this is very important. Avoid using the letter to repeat things in your resume.

Use the letter to link your skills to the job requirements and state your claim for the position.

If you’re not sure how to begin a cover letter, this document contains some examples that may help, or try googling some different options. Read several different cover letters and take inspiration from them; we wouldn’t recommend copying one in its entirety, but reading several examples may help you find the words you’re looking for.

It’s a good idea to save your letters in a file, including the name of the employer in the title. This will help you easily locate them at a later stage, like when you are called for an interview.

Applying Online

More and more these days things are becoming automated. When applying for a job you may be directed to an online platform to submit your application. This can include uploading your resume and cover letter and answering additional screening questions.

If you are required to complete an online application, ensure that you save as you go along. Each page usually has a ‘save’ button.

The online applications may include:

  • Aptitude testing
  • Technical or theoretical expertise
  • Literacy and numeracy
  • Behaviour based testing

Always take your time, proofread and when creating documents make them simple and easy to read.

There may be times where an online application system, or parts of it, are not accessible. This can be a frustrating experience. There are different ways to handle this if you encounter it, you must choose the one that suits you.

  • You could choose not to apply for the position and instead, focus on finding something that is accessible
  • You could ask someone for assistance to complete the inaccessible parts; this could be a family member, friend, support worker or perhaps a service like Aira or your Disability Employment Service Provider if you are registered with one
  • You could contact the company to advise them of your interest in the position and the inaccessibility of their application process. The company may not be aware of this and may be able to look into changing the process. They may be able to provide you with an alternate means of application; either way, if you take this approach it is likely you will have to disclose your disability.

Whichever option you choose, remain professional. It is a small world and you never know who you will end up working alongside in the future.

Regardless of whether you are required to write a cover letter or apply online, it is a good idea to have someone read over your work before you submit it. They may pick up on spelling or grammatical errors, formatting inconsistencies, sentences that need rewording, or perhaps think of something you hadn’t considered. Everyone should always have someone read over their work before they submit it as part of a job application; it’s important to be as thorough and detail oriented as possible. This will reflect your attention to detail to the employer and help to show your dedication and commitment to being successful in your application.