Cover Letters - What’s The Point
A cover letter is an important document sent along with your CV, in order to provide additional information stating your skills and experience. Employers often ask for cover letters as a way of determining which candidates would be suitable to invite to an interview. If the employer requires a cover letter it will be stated in the job posting, however, if an employer does not state they require one you should always still send one as it’s of great importance.
Today a CV can tell the employer everything they need to know about potential job candidates including things like where they went to school, work history, awards and achievements etc. But regardless of the amount of depth the CV goes into, it doesn’t tell your full story to potential employers.
A CV can often be filled with lots of information but it will not stand out. A well-written cover letter is more important than an impressive CV as it reveals information surrounding your work ethic, passion and attention to detail. It helps give a glimpse into your personality, something that a list of awards cannot show.
In the past cover letters appeared very different to what they do now. They used to appear quite lengthy and not very to the point. Whereas now it is recommended that the letter is short enough for someone to skim read in ten seconds or less. Employers have a huge number of cover letters to read through so by giving them something succinct, it will make it easier for your letter to be more memorable.
Modern cover letters also show more of a passion that a potential candidate has for the role they are applying for. By doing your research beforehand, you can get an idea of the employer’s hobbies, business ethics and so on. This means you can tailor your letter to catch their attention by relating to them.
First Sentence on a Cover Letter – get it right!
Cover letters are now produced to try and hook the reader on their first sentence. It is really important to grab the reader’s attention as soon as possible. Don’t state that you are applying for said position, as the reader knows what position you are applying for. Instead open your letter with a bold statement or with bold words that will catch the employer’s eye straight away. For example,
“Creative, Challenged, Focussed, Determined”
Carefully reading the job description will also be of huge help when it comes to writing a cover letter. Select two or three skills mentioned in the description and show how you have those specific qualities, making you suitable for the job. Demonstrate how you have those skills and give examples of when and how you have used them in the past.
Another thing that has changed from the way cover letters used to be written is including statistics and numbers to back up claims. Nowadays this is readily encouraged to provide examples of work you may have done in the past. Don’t be afraid to say how much you increased a company’s revenue through a campaign you ran. The goal is to prove how you are a go-getter and can replicate your past success in the new company. For example,
“In “x” amount of years, I have driven “x” amount of sales and “x” amount of profit”
Cover Letter Format
Sometimes, cover letters are written as a paragraph form of a CV. This is not the purpose of them at all and needs to be a separate document. Your cover letter needs to be carefully designed to show how you have an interest in the company and why you are an appropriate candidate for the job. A cover letter doesn’t require a list of achievements. It is about showing how your past successes have given you the required skills to fulfil the new job role.
It is also key that you address your cover letter directly to the hiring manager or recruiter (address personally to their name). Never put “To Whom It May Concern”. Before we had the use of modern technology, that may have been ok, but now there is no excuse. Do some research and find out who the hiring manager is and their job title, and address your cover letter to them, ensuring that their name is spelt correctly. This will show the reader that you have spent some time researching the company and have an interest in them as a person you will report to.
Why Have A Cover Letter?
- To show off your skills. It is fair enough stating them in your CV, but your cover letter gives you a chance to explain them and give examples.
- A cover letter gives you the opportunity to show why you want to work at that specific company. Personalise and demonstrate why you are the best candidate.
- To demonstrate your writing skills. A cover letter allows you to write more fluently and can show the employer your skills
- It is your opportunity to tell the employer who you are and why they need you. In the main body of the letter you can elaborate on the past experience that would make you suitable
- It allows you to sell your strengths. They may have already been mentioned on your CV but they might not necessarily stand out. This is why a cover letter is important as you can expand on them
- It shows that your application is of significant importance and you are serious about it. Some applicants fail to provide a cover letter so yours will show that you have actually put effort into the application
- It makes up for a CV that doesn’t stand out as it gives you the chance to explain yourself and give examples
- For the impact. In the closing statement end with something positive that reminds the employer why you can add value to their team
Top Three CV Hints and Tips
- The Introduction: This is where you must grab the reader’s attention and convince them to carry on reading. The best way to do this is to tell them what you can do for them. Use the introduction to sell yourself and your skills. Right away you are able to provide a solution to the problem they are trying to solve through hiring a new candidate.
- The evidence: It is crucial that you back up the statements you made in the introduction with evidence. Give examples of relevant work you have done in the past that directly ties into skills stated on your CV. Also make them relevant to the hiring company.
- The company: You also must show that you have done your research and understand what the company’s goals are. Show them how your skills can be of good use to them. You need to go beyond the job description and do some actual research to get a better understand of what they are about, their successes and their competitors.