Ping! My overpriced yet emotionally connective Apple Mac Air alerts me to view an e-mail, which is most likely from a candidate looking for better opportunity in a market where roles are few, companies are stretched and the major players dominate.
I open the e-mail to find a short-body paragraph informing me of the candidates abilities, hopes and aspirations. Nothing wrong. I double-click on the attachment to open the CV (and nowadays should we even be using traditional CV’s? Or should we be leveraging LinkedIn? Or online CV’s? Perhaps a discussion for another day) to find myself confronted with a cover letter, 3 pages of text, font Arial, size 9 (1.0 line spacing I might add) about their application for an XYZ position at ABC PTY LTD. Here comes another generic cover letter! Duck!
What is so wrong with a comprehensive well-written cover letter you might ask? And no, the example above contained a mixture of 3rd and 1st person inferences, again a discussion for another day. The issue is simply time. It does not add value to the agency/recruiter/HR manager/companies time. All they want to know, at a glance, is do you cut the mustard. The cover letter will therefore come across as a sheepish diversion, whether this is true or not, in order to hide a desperation for greener pastures, yet almost always will prove to the contrary. The CV is an expression of your brand, it also happens to contain important facts that allow others to judge a book by its cover (which is absolutely acceptable in the screening process, which, yes, is against Aunty Trudy’s childhood lesson among others). The biggest brands in the world all have one thing in common, and that is direct communication to you, speaking to their core values and beliefs. The Nike “just do it” tick is one of my favourite icons as it carries with it a mountain of emotion, assumption and familiarity. It speaks to positive, instant and effective results. The tick is understood by many nations and many languages and ultimately makes people feel that they can trust the brand in an instant, without a write up about their entire history.
So how do you create a brand this strong in a CV? Perhaps the 3rd discussion for another day, but let’s at least agree on less yada yada and more ching ching in an effort to minimise time wastage and instantly SHOW your agent who you are, not what you SAY you are. Cut the cover letter, start with a few personal details and clearly articulate your education and experience in detail. Shall we go from there?