My Fear of Cover Letters

I didn’t expect the hardest part of my degree was going to be writing a cover letter for a placement that I was not even applying for!

The cover letter I write was for of an assignment which involved finding a placement opportunity and writing an up-to-date CV and cover letter as a theoretical application, both annotated to demonstrate how I proved my suitability for the role.

As a budding Psychologist I picked the placement opportunity as a researcher for a health and social care watchdog, as I thought picking a placement, I was actually interested in would make this a lot easier.

Since I have been in part-time employment from age 14 in many different roles, including within health and social care, I was confident in the CV I already had and simply adjusted it relating to the placement. My confidence for writing a cover letter, however, was practically non-existent. I think this is because I had never had to write one before and have always managed to secure every job I wanted — in all honestly, I thought I’d never have to write one, how naïve. I felt completely overwhelmed and started to question whether any of my employment experience was even valid without writing a cover letter before.

Wrong Way sign. Photo by Kind and Curious on Unsplash

I forced myself shake off this feeling if I ever wanted to begin the assignment.

My first draft of the cover letter was basically a lengthy version of my CV. If I looked back at it now, I’d cringe. I was adamant that all the relevant information about myself was on my CV and did not need to be re-written in a formal cover letter, because isn’t that what interviews are for?

Therefore, when I began writing I realised that I am a people-person and that I would be much more comfortable explaining everything I was writing in a face-to-face interview or meeting. I don’t think this preference is unique to myself, however, as I remember many of my cohort also explaining how uncomfortable they felt writing about their suitability for their role, as if it was some sort of egotistical self-compassion assignment.

Job interview. Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Looking at my unsurprising feedback, I did not successfully ‘pitch’ myself as a candidate for the role by providing specific evidence supporting my skills. Although this feedback was obviously disheartening, it was not hard to understand at all. I went into the assignment unsure of my written communication abilities and that reflected on my performance.

Like the saying goes — what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

The struggle of this experience has been invaluable to me. It drew awareness to my preference for face-to-face interviews with potential employers where I can explain my skills and suitability for a role in a more personal and interactive manner, boosting my confidence for future interviews. It also motivated me to practice my written communication skills, especially in relation to writing about myself.

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