How to Write an Effective Geospatial & GIS Cover Letter
When applying for a geospatial position, your cover letter provides the perfect opportunity to really make sense of your skills and experience, and to relate them to the job you are applying for.
Keep your cover letter concise and to about a page in length. You should submit a cover letter every time you hand in a résumé, unless there is no chance to.
A cover letter is your opportunity to really sell yourself to the employer. Consider the cover letter and the resume as your first assignment with the prospective employer. That means it needs to be flawless.
If you a newcomer to Canada or a new graduate, the cover letter and resume are your chance to show the employer that you have the communication skills necessary to be an effective team member and fit in with their environment.
Before You Write
Make a list of all your skills, and compare them to the skills listed in the job posting. Try to find the skills that you can elaborate most on. For example, if the employer is asking for a willingness to work in remote areas, you may want to mention a previous job or internship where you were required to spend an extended period in remote areas. Experience that can be quantified (e.g: assisted on over 20 topographic and boundary surveys) will resonate more with the reader, as he/she will have a stronger grasp on the scope of your skills and experience.
When deciding what qualifications to highlight in your cover letter, put yourself in the employer’s shoes. Think of what skills and experience he/she finds most valuable, and explain how you meet these criteria. Remember, the cover letter is your chance to sell yourself.
Addressing Your Cover Letter
Avoid putting “Dear Sir or Madam” or “to whom this may concern” on your letter unless you are unable to find a contact name. Find the company website and track down the name of the office manager. Putting this initiative into your application will immediately set you apart from those who didn’t do their homework.
Crafting Your Language
Try to find out who will be reviewing your cover letter. If the reader is a GIS professional, you will be able to use more technical terms in your writing. If, on the other hand, your reader is in the Human Resources (HR) department, cut out as much technical geomatics jargon as possible.
The key in writing an effective cover letter is to know your audience and target the letter to them. If you are writing to an HR employee, you need to describe your qualifications in a way he/she will understand. Your résumé may eventually be passed to a geospatial professional, but for now, your focus is on getting it by the HR department. Applying for a job is a process that is done in steps, and at every step, you need to know who you are communicating with.
Show off Your Writing Skills
The cover letter gives you a chance to show how smart and effective you are with written communications. This can be particularly difficult for people who are not writing in their first language. Keep your writing concise and to the point. After you finish, revise everything. Check your spelling and grammar, and make sure any numbers or titles you used coincide with those on your resume. If writing in English is not your strength, ask a friend or two to look over your cover letter before sending it in.
Do You Want Help Finding a Job?
GoGeomatics can help with your cover letter and resume. We offer coaching and writing services for the geospatial sector. Visit our geomatics career coaching site here.
If you are from overseas you will find a lot of help from our International Geospatial Career Guide for those seeking more information on work in Canada.