It pays to put some effort into getting your cover letter right and plugging any ‘holes’ that might be acting as a red flag to recruiters, and stopping them from offering you an interview.
If you have applied for a few jobs lately and not heard anything back, perhaps your cover letter is letting you down and needs sprucing up.
There are obviously certain skills and experience that recruiters look for when screening candidates. Assuming you feel you have the necessary qualifications for the jobs for which you have been applying – and are STILL not hearing back – then you need to look at the possible reasons.
Explain gaps in your employment history
As a working carer, it is possible you have had either short or long gaps in your employment history.
If this is the case, make sure those times of being out of the paid workforce are well explained. You want to ensure you come across as stable and reliable, as well as skilled and adaptable.
Gaps in employment are one of the biggest barriers carers find when trying to enter or re-enter the workforce.
You will need to give careful thought to how you can link the transferable skills you acquired during your time as a carer, to the advertised position.
Each job will be different, and you might need the paid assistance of a recruitment agency to help you through this hurdle the first time, but once you get the hang of what is required, you should be able to manage subsequent applications alone.
Download the position description and use key words from this document in your cover letter and also in your resume.
If writing an unsolicited cover letter, or cold call letter, target your letter to the needs of the employer by identifying your key transferable skills. Don’t be shy about selling yourself – if you don’t, no one else will – and that is the point of the cover letter.
Research the role and organisation to best sell your knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities. An example for a role requiring exceptional communication skills might be:
Throughout my time as a carer and advocate for my mother/son/partner I have always been required to communicate with diverse stakeholders, such as respite and home care staff, doctors, medical specialists, builders/carpenters, educational institutions and diverse organisations, involved in the support of people with high care needs.
I have often had to brief those people about complex health and logistical matters, after having done extensive research and fact finding to ensure my information is as up-to-date as possible and reflects current best practice. This has required the highest level of communication skills.
Being responsible for a person with high support needs has been a demanding and challenging role, both personally and professionally. It has required me to:
- maintain a cool head under pressure
- manage high daily stress levels with equanimity
- become super-efficient at timetabling and organising
- develop advanced networking skills
- learn to research complex information
- make informed decisions based on knowledge
- teach and share my knowledge with others
- expand my sound common-sense foundational skills.
I believe these skills are highly transferable in the role of office administration manager for Company Name.
The skills you are seeking encompass… (list some of the key skills in the role for which you are applying) and I believe my experience as a carer for the past 12 years has equipped me to offer these skills to your organisation.
Further, I am proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and am able to produce social media posts and write basic blog articles and reports.
Remember, this is just an example – you will need to craft your own cover letter based on your transferable skills and what the job position requires.
Cover letter format
Here is a good format to follow for your cover letter:
Dear Ms Adams
Paragraph 1: Reason for your letter
- • In reply to an advertisement
- • Writing at the suggestion of … who?
- • An application for employment or even a mature-age internship opportunity.
Explain your current status, e.g. that you are a carer returning to the full-time workforce or seeking part-time or voluntary work. Clearly state your availability and/or potential start dates.
Paragraphs 2 & 3: Selling your skills and experience
These paragraphs briefly outline the relevant knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities you possess. They should demonstrate your ‘fit’ with the organisation and focus on what you can offer or bring to the company. Add a high-level summary of your previous work experience if you have any.
Paragraph 4: Areas of the organisation which hold a special interest for you
For a mature-age internship or cold call employment letter, indicate which areas or departments you are interested in (this demonstrates that you have taken the time to research the organisation) and make it clear that you are flexible and keen to accept any available roles in order to further develop valuable practical experience and possible permanent full-time work down the track.
Paragraph 5: Close of letter
You must close your letter in a positive tone. Express your availability to attend an interview, thank them for their time, and say that you look forward to hearing from them or discussing opportunities with them further, in the near future.