How to Word Cover Letter Following Layoff


This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Lorraine writes: I have a query. My husband was retrenched almost 8 months ago now, and I want to send his CV to as many printing companies that I can find in South Africa. I also want to send a covering letter attached with his CV explaining that he was retrenched 8 months ago and would like to know if any of these companies have any vacancies. Please help me with the wording of this letter as I am at a loss? Your help would be greatly appreciated.
The Career Doctor responds: Certainly one of the key components of a job search should still be cold contact, where the job-seeker sends his or her cover letter and resume (or CV) to companies that might have job openings. The critical factor with this strategy is getting the name and title of the hiring manager for your area of expertise and then writing a powerful cover letter. Why does cold contact work? It works because of the large hidden job market; the vast majority of job openings never get advertised or posted, so cold contact is a way of applying for positions that may in fact be open. I assume that while you are writing the letters, that they will actually be signed by your husband. The cover letter is critical — its function is to spark enough interest so that the employer then looks at your resume (or CV). Think of the cover letter as a sales pitch letter, where the item you are selling is yourself — your mix of skills, accomplishments, and education. You NEVER want to put anything negative in your cover letter. And while many folks are being retrenched or rightsized or re-engineered out of jobs, it’s still a negative. Employers want to see job-seekers who are (or appear) gainfully employed. So, please, say nothing about the retrenchment in your cover letter; saying anything will only harm your husband’s chances. Read more about writing cover letters in the Quintessential Careers Cover Letter Tutorial. Finally, please remember that your efforts are not complete once you mail the cover letters and CVs to the printing companies. The last paragraph of your cover letter should request action — an interview — and after a reasonable amount of time (1-2 weeks), you MUST follow-up and contact each company — each hiring manager — and ask for the interview. If you don’t follow-up, you are wasting your time even sending the cover letters and CVs. A note to all job-seekers: Please don’t wait eight months after being downsized to start job-hunting. Take some time to reflect and consider whether it’s time to change careers — but even if you get a big severance package, you should get right back out there on the job market. The longer you wait to start job-searching, the harder it will be for you.