What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a letter used in applying for a job position. It tells the employer your achievement(s) and how you can replicate same achievement in his firm if considered for the job. In fact, a cover letter allows you sell yourself to an employer, making him see what he stands to gain should he employ you. The major idea behind cover letters is to enable you seduce your would-be boss to see you as the best candidate. However, we have to be careful with our choice of words so we don’t brag instead of selling our skills. We have three major types of cover letters and they all play different roles:
- Speculative or cold calling cover letters
- Cover letters in response to job adverts
- Cover letters with names dropping.
1. Now, we send speculative or cold calling cover letters to firms we are not sure have vacancies but we want to work there. You send such cover letters and then send a follow-up letter three weeks later. The idea is to put yourself in the eyes of the employer.
2. Cover letters response to job adverts have taken over application letters. It is written to woo an employer that you are the right candidate for the job. Here, you look at the skills they need the candidate to have and tell the employer you can do it. You also tell the employer problems you’ve solved in the past. It could be when you made your students do well in WAEC during your Youth Service year or when you made a good sales for your former/present firm. Even your social media skills can be brought in by telling your employer that you would use it to project the firm to people.
3. Cover letters with name dropping is used when you are recommended by someone to a company. On the letter, you will need to state who recommended you and address the letter to the particular person you were told to write. It takes the form of speculative cover letter but only has names stated on it. So in a nutshell, cover letters are to make you sell your skills, so give the employer your best shot.
Ok. I will like to address some interview questions and how to answer them.
1. MAY WE MEET YOU? You are not expected to tell them your life history of how you are the last born and related to your village head. All they want to know are your name, educational background and career background. e.g My name is Michael Jacob, a graduate of Mechanical Engineer from University of Lagos and also a career engineer.
2. WHY SHOULD WE HIRE YOU? This gives you an opportunity to sell yourself. Tell them about your qualification, experience (if you have) and skills. I should be hired because I’m academically qualified for the job. I also have the needed experience and skills needed to carry out the task I’m being interview for.
3. ARE YOU MOBILE? If you like tell them ‘Yes, I have a car’ or ‘Of course! who doesn’t have a phone?’. You are on your own. What they are simply asking is are you free to relocate from your present location if we employ you?’. If it’s possible, simply say ‘yes’.
4. CAN YOU TELL A LIE TO PROTECT THE INTEREST OF THIS FIRM IF EMPLOYED?
This question is meant to cage you to ‘one corner’. I know you all know the song.
If you say ‘yes’, it means you can’t be trusted. If you say ‘no’, it means you don’t have the interest of the firm at heart. So what do you say?
Simply Tell them, ‘As a professional, I will do anything within my powers to protect the interest of my company’. ‘within my powers’ is an open statement. That means if you can lie, you will. If you can’t lie, you wouldn’t.
5. HOW MANY BOYFRIENDS/GIRLFRIENDS DO YOU HAVE? This is a tricky one. Don’t go self destructive by telling them,’ I have two boyfriends sir, Emeka and Peter. In case, Emeka disappoints me’.
They are not interested in your affairs. This is a ‘perfunctory’ question meant to probe your disposition. They want to know how sociable you are. So answer this way, Sir; I have many friends and if given the opportunity to work here, I will make sure they do business with this firm.