Lee Biggins, Founder and Managing Director of CV-Library offers guidance on writing a winning cover letter for those looking for a new role in social care.
Recent research from CV Library has found that has found that many care professionals have fallen out of love with their jobs. In fact, almost half (41.9%) confessed that they aren’t happy in their current roles, despite 91.7% believing that it’s important to love what you do.
The survey of over 1,200 workers sought to reveal how professionals felt about their current jobs. Despite many being unhappy in their roles, over two thirds (67.4%) of care workers agreed that moving on isn’t always the best solution.
When asked to identify why they dislike their position, respondents across the industry cited the following:
- Not being paid enough – 66.7%.
- Poor company culture – 51.1%.
- Disliking the working hours – 50%.
- Poor work-life balance – 33.3%.
- Boring daily routine – 27.8%.
Interestingly, 51% of care professionals said that you should always take positive steps to try and make things better before you give up on your job. Respondents revealed what they believe are the top ways to address problems at work, with speaking to your manager (67.4%) coming out on top. This was followed by reflecting on what’s making you unhappy (53.5%), adopting a better work-life balance (27.9%) and speaking to a trusted colleague (25.6%).
Social care cover letters
However, if that hasn’t worked and it’s time to apply for a new role, are you confident that your cover letter can get you that all-important interview?
Cover letters can feel like the hardest part of a job application. And who can blame anyone for feeling this way. They can become a tedious part of the process that takes up valuable time. So why should we bother with them? And are they even worth the hassle?
In short, yes. A carefully constructed cover letter can boost your chances of advancing your career in social care and is a great platform to expand upon key points in your CV. Especially when you want to progress to a more senior level and need space to illustrate your experience and ability.
Yet, data from CV-Library has found that 56.8% of care practitioners feel that cover letters aren’t necessary. What’s more, one third (33.3%) also admitted that they aren’t very good at writing them.
To help, we break down the process into seven simple steps, so you can perfect your cover letter and land a new opportunity in no time.
1. Do your research
Before writing your cover letter, stop and do your research. You need to do a good amount of digging on the organisation and role you’re applying for before you can begin putting pen to paper. Showing off your knowledge about the organisation will help to impress the hiring manager at the other end.
After all, the care industry continues to face severe skills shortages and the hiring manager will want to ensure that you’re the right person to take on this challenging role. Many organisations across the sector are after someone with a strong reputation in the industry, who can make a positive impact on their organisation.
Find out about the values of the organisation and any recent news that’s worth mentioning. You can use this information later to show how passionate you are about the role and working for this employer. It might also be worth finding out if you know anyone who works there. They may be able to recommend you for the position.
Alongside this, it’s important that you find out who’s going to be reading your letter. Look for the name of the hiring manager or internal recruiter if you can. LinkedIn is a handy resource and some care organisations may have ‘meet the team’ pages, which are great for locating names and doing research on potential colleagues.
2. Create a clear structure
Remember that a cover letter is a formal document and should be set out like a formal letter, in a formal tone with a clear, legible font. Then, you should follow with a basic structure, for example:
Paragraph 1 – Introduce yourself, explain what position you’re applying for and where you found the vacancy.
Paragraph 2 – Go into more detail, explaining your prior experience and qualifications. Make sure you relate this back to the position you’re applying for. Listing a load of unrelated points to the role doesn’t tell the recruiter why you’re right for the job.
Paragraph 3 – Remember that brilliant knowledge of the organisation we mentioned earlier? Now is your chance to impress. Show you’ve done your research and describe why you’d be suitable for this role.
Paragraph 4 – Conclude the letter politely by summing up what’s been said above. It’s advisable to follow this up with an action, for instance ‘Thank you for taking the time to consider my application; I will be in touch next week’.
Obviously, you don’t have to follow this structure completely. The most important point is that the cover letter is clear, tailored to the specific organisation and role, and well thought-out.
3. Know what to include
As each word counts, it’s important to know what you need to include on your cover letter and what you don’t. Research from CV-Library has revealed that the top three skills recruiters believe candidates should have are communication (78.3%), attention to detail (56.5%) and self-motivation (54.6%). You can show examples of how you have used these skills in your cover letter.
The top piece of advice for this is to use practical examples. Even better, if you can use numbers or stats to highlight your points – do.
I lead a team of nine care professionals to provide top quality client care within a care home. My work towards improving communication, organisation and attention to care all contributed towards increasing the CQC service rating from Good to Outstanding.
Taking this approach ensures your professional merits and achievements are taken into account and can give you an edge above any fellow candidates.
However, be careful not to include unnecessary information – no recruiter wants to hear about qualifications, experience and hobbies that aren’t relevant. It’s just going to take up valuable space and look like you’re trying to pad out your cover letter.
4. Let it complete (not repeat) your CV
Don’t forget to stay away from simply repeating information from your CV. Your cover letter should be an extension of your CV. It’s your chance to elaborate on what you can do and why you’d be great at the job. Besides, repeating information from your CV is wasting valuable words, which you could be using to convince the recruiter to hire you.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t go into more detail based around the important parts of your CV. Remember to pick and choose carefully what you’re going to discuss. Recruiters will be riffling through many applications and you need to catch their attention quickly.
Think about new ideas, hobbies and achievements which you could add in that aren’t already on your CV. Use your cover letter to show specifically how these skills make you the perfect candidate for the role.
5. Customise your letter
Your cover letter shouldn’t look like a template plucked straight from the internet, or something that you’ve already sent out with hundreds of other applications. It needs to be personal and engaging to attract the recruiter’s attention. After all, you don’t want to look like you’ve been lazy and not put any work into the application process. This is going to put you at a huge disadvantage.
Ensure you address the letter to the right person by name and have the correct organisation name, department and any other information whenever mentioned during the letter. Try to relate back to your prior research. You might pick out something you found impressive about the organisation to show your passion for working there.
6. Keep it short and sweet
Getting the length of your cover letter right is important for securing that job. Hiring managers are busy people, especially in the care industry when they are constantly under pressure to find new talent. It may seem hard not to write pages and pages about how great you are for the job, but it’s got to be short and sweet to keep them engaged. Ideally, we are talking a maximum of an A4 page altogether.
This general rule means your letter needs to be more succinct and to the point. This is going to increase your chance of being shortlisted for the role. That said, make sure you include enough information to convince the recruiter that you’re the right person for the job.
7. Proof read thoroughly
Last but definitely not least is the proof read. While it may seem a bit obvious, it’s potentially one of the most important points to remember when writing a cover letter and easily gets forgotten.
After all, you can imagine what kind of awful impression is given by a cover letter filled with typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. It shows that you don’t have attention to detail, a quality which is essential in the care industry. Don’t let the small details ruin your chance of getting the job.
Try reading your letter aloud and then ask a friend or family member to give it a second read. Ideally, leave it a day or so for a final readthrough yourself – this makes any potential mistakes more noticeable.
Get it right
In summary, it’s important that you get your cover letter right to land a new and exciting opportunity in the care sector. While it may seem daunting at first, take your letter writing one-step at a time and break the process down. Before you know it, you’ll have the perfect cover letter that will help you land your dream job.