After my last post on Resume in impact jobs, I am pleased to present a world exclusive new article, this time dedicated to cover letters.
Whether you are looking for an internship, in professional retraining or job seeker, the cover letter, like the CV, requires a tour de force: you must fit on a single page your motivation for a job in the structure, the the most salient points of your professional career, reassuring the recruiter about your skills, while making the difference with other candidates, all in order to land an interview. How to achieve this feat? I don't want to spoil the surprise for you, but it's through careful analysis of the offer, solid construction of the letter and impeccable formatting. Everything must serve to illustrate your profile in its uniqueness and highlight your commitment.
I had already discussed it in the previous article on CVs, but one of the essential points of recruitment requests in the SSE (Social and Solidarity Economy: associations, cooperatives, foundations, mutuals, social enterprises) concerns the commitment of the candidates es. If you want to know more, I invite you to read the article on skills to work in SSE companies, which points out that values and soft skills are at the heart of the demands of SSE structures. The cover letter and then the interview are therefore essential vectors for defending your commitment and adherence to the values of the structure in which you are applying; I will come back, step by step, to the means of highlighting your commitment.
Analyze the offer
Your position in relation to recruitment
The first step in your search is to carefully read the offer that interests you and ask yourself the right questions. For that, nothing better than trying to put yourself in the place of the person who recruits you. It is important to understand that recruitment is a major issue in a structure, which requires considerable time and energy; this is all the more true in SSE structures, which are mostly small structures (on average 10.7 employees, according to data from the National SSE Observatory). By integrating (often) a small team, it is important that you be as reassuring as possible, by demonstrating the conformity of your profile with the recruitment request.
To put the odds on your side, you have to work on your positioning in relation to the offer: "why is my application the BEST for the job offer? Ask yourself these few questions:
- What is your academic or professional background? Where does your motivation come from for this position? How can you demonstrate your commitment to the position offered?
- Why are you looking to change jobs? How coherent is your desire for professional development and what motivates this desire for change?
- If you have had the opportunity to change career paths, start a retraining, or change jobs, do not hesitate to explain how you organized your professional reorientation.
- What are your skills? What personal qualities (soft skills) can you rely on to succeed in this job? Are you open to the idea of training to discover a new job? It is important in this case to also show your motivation for training.
- And of course, how can you differentiate yourself from the other candidates?
If you have difficulty in highlighting the skills acquired during your previous experiences, which may be the case for example when embarking on your professional life, I can only advise you, once again, to consult the Animafac guide on skills. Here you have to show what makes your professional project specific, to help the person who recruits you to identify your application and its strengths as easily as possible. Remember that it is quite possible that you are one application among dozens of others and that the recruiter only has a few minutes to devote to your letter: focus on the points that correspond the most on offer and be direct and efficient.
Ask the right questions
The last thing to do before moving on to writing the letter is to take an interest in what the offer contains. To do this, you can ask yourself some of the following questions:
- The sector of activity and the form of the structure: what are the subjects (environment, health, integration, advocacy, education, etc.) dealt with by the structure? From what angle? Since when ? What is the governance of the structure?
- The identity of the structure: how many people are employed? Is it present throughout the territory? Internationally ? If yes, where?
- The position: are there already similar positions within the structure? Who will you be working with? Is this a job creation? If yes, why?
- Missions: What are the missions mentioned? Are they clear? Is there a distribution of working time between the different missions that make up the offer?
- The requested profile: what training and what level of education? Are there any specific professional or academic training requirements? How many years of experience? Are you required to master foreign languages? Softwares ? What personal qualities are needed for this position?
Identify these elements in the offer (highlighting works well) to determine the keywords of the offer, which seem to you to be the most important. Note especially repetitions, emphasis (“it is necessary to…” “special attention will be paid to…”) or secondary priorities (“it is desirable…”; “fluency in Spanish would be appreciated, but do not is not required"). Needless to say, it is essential that these terms come back in your cover letters, illustrating with concrete examples how you have put these skills forward through your experiences and your commitment. Here, the question to ask is: “how do I concretely prove that I know how to do my job?”
Write your cover letter
The classic method of writing a cover letter usually consists of three paragraphs: a hook, to show your interest in the structure, the body of the pitch, to develop your background and a conclusion, which recalls your motivation and concludes the letter. with a classic polite formula. Now is the time to see how the work done before writing the letter will bear fruit.
In the hook, it is essential to show that the structure interests you, that its mission affects you more particularly. If one of your associative or personal commitments comes close to the mission of the structure, do not hesitate to talk about it! Alternatively, you can start with a news item to demonstrate that you have a real interest in the cause of the structure. For this, it can be useful to rely on newspaper articles, reports, studies, as many elements that show that you wanted to know more, that you want to have an impact.
If you are in the process of changing paths, whether it is a change of job or more simply changing your sector of activity, do not hesitate to specify here the reasons which lead you to consider this new professional life and in what way you have want to do this job: your values, your commitments, your convictions,...
The body of the letter
In the body of the letter, it is necessary to repeat the keywords and information identified previously, to show that you are the person best able to match the requested profile. This is the time to take up the thoughts you may have had on your positioning in relation to the offer, by talking about your background and what led you to the offer to which you are responding. Explain how your studies, your past experiences, your personal commitment have enabled you to build the skills and qualities to meet the needs of the structure.
Here, it is necessary to focus on the most relevant points of your career: your doctorate on Chinese literature at the end of the Qing dynasty is undoubtedly exciting, but not necessary. By limiting yourself to a limited number of experiences, you also leave yourself more room to illustrate them through concrete examples. In the same way, do not hesitate to quantify or contextualize your past experiences or your commitment: "During my professional career, I have accompanied 350 people...", "In a context of profound transformation of the structure, I I could…”.
The conclusion can be the perfect time to come back to important points, but secondary to the main missions identified by the offer. For example, your language skills, your mastery of software or your personal qualities could be included in this conclusion, unless you identified them as essential earlier in your analysis work: talk about your mastery of English for use as a translator in the body of the text rather than in the conclusion.
Finally, you can use a formula that summarizes your main arguments, before recalling your availability: "convinced that my training, my professional experience and my commitment would be an asset for your team...", "willing to defend the actions of [name of organization], I am convinced that I could help you to defend the cause of [name of cause]". Don't forget of course to end with a polite formula such as "please receive, madam, sir, my distinguished greetings" or "please accept my respectful greetings"
And after ?
The whole purpose of the cover letter is to get an interview: if you get it, don't hesitate to go back to your application file (CV and cover letter) that you wrote. You will certainly be asked about the strengths you have put forward and of course about your possible weaknesses; Be ready to defend your journey and highlight your successes. In the particular case where you are in the process of reorienting yourself professionally, also prepare your arguments. The recruiter will certainly want to understand what leads you to consider a change of professional life, what you want to implement to succeed in your retraining, how did you come to consider the job for which you are applying (assessment of skills, etc).
As you have seen, the proposed process for thinking about your positioning, analyzing the offer and writing a letter can be time-consuming. I can therefore only advise you to focus on the offers that seem most relevant to you and especially those that interest you the most: it will be all the easier for you to defend the interest and the uniqueness of your career. Above all, avoid chaining cover letters or constantly reusing the same letter template without personalizing it a little. The recruiter will spot it easily and you risk missing out on an opportunity. Similarly, you can look for an example of a letter on the internet to inspire you, but there is no point in copying and pasting. What matters is to convey your professional motivations and desires in the most sincere way possible.