If written the right way, a cover letter can be a powerful statement that gets potential employers to stand up and take notice. If you are in your 50s and 60s, you will have a wealth of transferable skills and experience that will be invaluable in many jobs, but you need to present them in a way that will surprise your future boss. !
A cover letter is an opportunity to speak directly to the employer and convince them that you are the right person for the job. This is often a deciding factor when considering which candidates will be shortlisted for the interview, so always make the most of the additional opportunity to have your voice heard.
To help you get on the road to success, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips so you can create a cover letter that you can’t wait to share.
Use your cover letter to enhance your CV
The cover letter should go hand in hand with your resume; Support and reinforce it, but not repeat it. It is an opportunity to introduce yourself and give future employers a brief idea of who you are, who you are, and why you would like to work with them before they decide whether or not to read your CV to find out more.
Your CV is about you (it’s essentially a list of your skills and experience), but your cover letter is an opportunity to show that you’ve also thought about the company you’re applying to and how you can help them – you essentially want to ask them an offer they cannot refuse.
A cover letter pays off if you’re applying for a slightly different position than you’ve held before, or want to stand out from the crowd. Almost everyone attaches a CV with a job application these days, but few people take the time to send a good cover note.
We know that it can be difficult to force yourself to write a cover story with every job application, especially if you submit a lot of job applications each week. However, not writing cover letters can be a false economy, as fewer employers are likely to bring you in for an interview, which means you will end up submitting more and more applications.
By simply making an effort to write one, you are already making a great first impression on your prospective employer and showing how proactive you are.
Do your homework
Always tailor your cover letter to the job you are applying for by stating why you want to work for that company and why you want to apply for that particular position. Whoever receives your application will not want to feel that they have sent an identical letter to 30 other companies.
To convince potential employers that you may be the solution to their problem, you must understand exactly what the company intends to do and what its challenges might be.
By visiting the website of most large employers, you will be able to assemble a treasure chest of information to help you. For example, a quick look at Sainsbury’s and you can find their values, their vision, what they are looking for, and even some advice from them on how to increase your chances of success. All of this is in addition to the information provided in a basic job specification about the position for which you are applying.
Companies are more likely to contact you if they can see that you have a genuine personal interest in helping them achieve their future goals and objectives.
Highlight your most recent experience first
It’s important to make sure your cover letter gets straight to the point; Tell employers what you have been doing most recently and how this will help you be successful in the job you are applying for.
Being over 50, you likely have decades of invaluable life skills and experience, but it is important to select only the most relevant and interesting points for the job you are applying for. Whoever receives your application will screen hundreds of applicants and make quick decisions on the suitability of each applicant, so their opening needs will give them a snapshot of who you are and why you might be a good fit for the position.
Always mention flexibility and show that you’re willing to learn
If you are making a career change, you may not have any specific experience in that field yet. But that’s perfectly fine! The most important thing to let employers know is that regardless of your skills or experience, you can work flexibly and are willing to learn.
Employers don’t always look for the most experienced candidates; they often look for candidates with the most positive attitudes who can demonstrate transferable skills such as teamwork and great attention to detail. Your cover letter is as much about demonstrating your proactivity and promoting your strength of character as it is about promoting your skills and experience.
Be keen but not too keen
It’s important to show prospective employers that you want to work for them but be careful not to stray into the territory of sounding too desperate or begging for the job. Employers want to know that you’re passionate about the job and that you share the company values. They don’t want to know that you’re applying because there is nothing else available or because you can’t find another job. They want to believe that you can get any job you want, but that you want this specific job, working with them.
As always, it’s important to be authentic, however, so avoid telling companies how ‘amazing’ you think they are or that you’re their ‘biggest fan’. Instead, pick out a few things that ‘attracted’ you personally to the role and a few things the company does that you find ‘interesting’.
Explain CV gaps
Your cover letter is your opportunity to develop anything that is not very clear when looking at your CV. For example, if you were absent for a year due to injury or illness, or if you were a full-time caregiver for a family member, it is better to tell your employer this in your cover letter than to let them wonder why. I was not working.
Try to think about everything you did during this time and how this contributed to your skillset or life experience. For example. If you were caring for a family member and are now applying for a customer service position, you could say that during this time you developed greater empathy, which you will use when helping customers.
Skip the negatives
One of the most important things you can do and get used to is being optimistic. It’s contagious, even in a letter! Positive people always radiate energy, and others want to be around them. They also want to work with them. This means that if you had a bad job experience or were fired for any reason, don’t mention it in your cover letter.
Focus on telling future employers why you are the right person for the job and don’t write anything that might convince them otherwise or leave them asking questions. If you are over 50 and trying to select only the most relevant information from your extensive work history, don’t waste an iota of space on anything that might put employers off, even if you have an explanation for why it happened.
Negotiate salary later
After several decades on the job, it is understandable that you have certain salary expectations by now. But you don’t need to write it down on paper right away. Our advice is always to skip this unless you have been specifically asked to specify salary expectations. In this case, write that it is “flexible” to negotiate your salary later. If you set a price too high before an employer has had a chance to meet you, they may instantly become discouraged and move directly to the next candidate who specifies a lower salary. If a company meets you, likes you, and decides that you are the one they want for the job, they may be much more open to deciding on a suitable figure. And if not, you’ve gained valuable interview experience!
Check your presentation
Presenting your cover letter (and your CV for that matter) will speak volumes to future employers. Companies receive hundreds of CVs and cover letters, so you want yours to be clear and concise; if it is longer than one page, the reader is likely to get bored and move on to the next letter. Your letter should capture the attention of the reader, but only because of what you have chosen to write, not because of how you have chosen to display it; Always use a classic black font and avoid using any flashy images or colors that detract from the written content of your letter.
It’s also worth checking your cover letter at least twice for typos. Potential employers will want to see that you pay excellent attention to detail and that you care and take pride in your work. The quality of your cover letter should aim to reassure them about this.
End on a positive note
Always end your cover letter on an upbeat note looking to the future, eg. ‘I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and discuss how my skills and experience could contribute to the success of the company.’ Avoid saying that you ‘expect’ to be contacted, as this implies that you have considered the possibility that they are not in contact. Be direct and show that you believe in yourself and your abilities, and you’ll be more likely to be successful.