Thanks to the internet, the recruitment process has improved significantly. So, in our digital age, you may question whether including a cover letter with your CV or job application is still necessary? Well, it absolutely is! In this blog article, I’ll explain what a cover letter is and give you some pointers on how to perfect yours.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a ‘front cover’ to your CV or job application. It allows you to highlight why you’re suitable for a role and what you can bring to an organisation. Avoid sending generic cover letters; each one should be customised to the position that you’re applying for. In many ways, it is one of the most important and underrated parts of the recruitment process.
Do your homework
Now that you understand what a cover letter is, it’s time to think about what you’re going to include. To gauge the correct tone to use, and to understand the culture and any challenges the company you’re applying to may be facing, you need to do your research. Look at the company’s website, the executives’ Twitter feeds and LinkedIn profiles of employees. You’re looking to demonstrate how your appointment will help elevate your potential employer to where it wants to be.
You only get one chance to make a first impression
Your cover letter is the first impression that you give to a recruitment firm or a prospective employer. You need to open strong and shine! Imagine you’re a selector, reading tens, if not hundreds, of applications. What would catch your eye and make you put an application straight on to the ‘interview pile’? A fantastic way to do this is to show your excitement for the role and explain why you’re a perfect fit. Here are a few examples:
“Before you read on, let me draw your attention to three ways my expertise and experience will help you overcome the challenges you face in…”
“I am a Senior Account Manager with over 20 years of experience, and I’d love to bring my expertise and passion to your growing marketing team.”
Try to address the letter to someone directly by finding out the name of the person in charge of recruitment. It’s a great way to show that you have done some research and are serious about the role you’re applying for.
Include the main points
A cover letter shouldn’t be too long, about a page of A4 should suffice. Always include your personal details at the top, and to make your name stand out, use a large, bold font.
Remember that your CV contains all the details of your education, experience and skills, so you don’t need to talk too much about these aspects in your cover letter, use it instead to highlight a few pertinent points. After a short, strong opener, write a couple of concise paragraphs about why you are suitable for the role and what you can bring to the company. Avoid using too many ‘buzz words’ and back up claims with as much fact as possible. Nobody can argue with facts!
The computer says no
Many companies use online applications systems, where data can only be entered into specific fields. If this is the case, and you don’t have the option to include a covering letter, there’s no harm in trying to follow up your application with a brief email highlighting some of the key points. Again, it’s a great way to show ambition and thinking outside of the box!
I’ll leave you with these “do’s and don’ts”!
- Open strong. Make it clear why you want the role and why you are right for it.
- Share your accomplishments. Demonstrate that you can address some of the challenges the employer is facing.
- Check spelling and grammar.
- Choose a clear and professional font.
- Sign off thanking the hiring manager for their time.
- Be generic. It’s important to tailor each cover letter to the role you’re applying for.
- Waffle on! Be clear and concise. Hiring managers will have a pile of covering letters to read. They should be able to find the key points that they’re looking for at a glance.
- Use too many buzz words. Hiring managers can spot them a mile away!
- Try to be funny. Keep your letter professional.
Want to find out more about how to write the perfect cover letter?
If you’d like to find out more about how to write the perfect cover letter, contact me to book a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation.