Responding to the advert

The Covering Letter can help your application get to the “good” pile that much more quickly.

The Salutation

It’s preferable to address this letter to someone by name.

Avoid “Dear Sir or Madam”, you’ll upset at least 50% of the population with this start.
Avoid “to whom it may concern”, no-one’s concerned.

If there’s a name quoted in the Job Ad, use it, so:-
Mr West, Personnel Manager — Dear Mr West
not Dear Personnel Manager or Dear Mr West, Personnel Manager

Jim West — Dear Jim
Not Dear Jim West or Dear Mr Jim West

If there’s no name quoted as in:
Personnel Officer — Get on the phone, ask nicely, “Can you help me? I’m responding to a Job Advert and would like to write to the Personnel Officer involved. Would it be possible for you to let me have that person’s name?”
In most cases they will tell you. If there’s only an initial, or a name which could be either male or female, for example “Chris” or “Bobby”, ask which it is.

If they won’t give you a name, then ask if it’s a lady or gentleman you’re writing to, that much information will help. Get onto the Internet, search for the company, see if you can find their website, they might have names of people in Personnel Department there. If not, look for a local Chamber of Commerce or Trade directory, you might find what you’re looking for there. Before you use the name, however, get back on the phone, “Could you confirm for me that Gillian Jones is still in your Personnel Department?”

Failing all else, you could address your letter:-
Dear Personnel Officer (I did try to find out your name but wasn’t able to, sorry for seeming so impersonal)

Paragraph One (in sales letter terms – “You need”)
Your advert for the position of Telesales Representative in the Daily Blah, this week, (or on the Big Job Board) caught my attention and I’m very keen to have the chance to talk to you about the job.
(Most applicants will have started with “I would like to apply for” or “Re the job advertised”, already you’re outgunning these by showing you’re keen and enthusiastic)

Paragraph Two (“I have”)
(Using the advert analysis technique, you will have found out three main things the company is looking for in its search. There may well be more, choose to demonstrate areas in which you can prove you have been successful.)
In particular I would like to tell you about my success with:-

  • Raising the incoming calls captured level by 30% by rewriting some of the scripts.
  • Exceeding sales targets on outbound calls by up to 50%.
  • Changing training manuals, helping the team increase their results substantially.

(These three statements are NOT copied straight from any CV but are supported by various bullet points on the document)

Paragraph Three (“Lets meet”)
 I’m looking forward to being able to tell you more about myself and how I could help introduce similar improvements, when we meet.

The Ending

Yours sincerely (or faithfully)
(remember the rule?)

Other examples of covering letters are available in the letter pack. (to be added)

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