The initial process of recruitment requires two essential documents: a CV and a cover letter. Many applicants often feel put off when it comes to providing a cover letter and would prefer to send off the bare bones of an application without one. However, the reality today is that employers receive hundreds of applications for a single position and many of the CVs will look the same. If you want your application to make it past the first few hurdles then a cover letter could be crucial to ensuring that you do.
What’s the purpose of a cover letter?
It will make your application stand out from the crowd, can give the person reading it an idea of who you really are and also allows you to draw attention to details that you most want them to see. If you have taken the time to explain why you believe you’re right for the role, why you have applied and why it means something to you then it’s likely that your application will automatically go to the top of the pile. That kind of advantage is one that few can afford to pass upon.
Getting the cover letter right
If you’re very focused on sending out a lot of CVs then the cover letter can seem like an inconvenient detail. You might not want to waste too much time on writing an individual cover letter for each different position. However, a generic cover letter is about as useful as no cover letter. If your cover letter doesn’t mention the job you’re applying for, isn’t personal and could have been written by anyone then it’s not really serving its purpose and you’re missing an opportunity to get ahead. When you’re creating a cover letter there are some key details to think about.
- Make sure the cover letter is clear and concise. The most effective cover letters are usually around a page in length. Each one should be personalised to the role and the employer.
- Create an attention-grabbing opening paragraph. If your cover letter opens with “I am writing to apply for the position of..” then it won’t stand out. Instead, try opening with something about yourself and why this opportunity appeals to you.
- Explain why this is the ideal role for you. This means identifying how you’re going to address the specific needs that the business has identified in the job description. That could be with a couple of concise examples and highlighting some of the experience you have that will make this happen.
- Remember that this isn’t your CV. You don’t have to go into a lot of detail this is more about drawing attention to skills and experience that will make the employer want to go on and read the CV in more detail.
- Tell the employer why you want to join the company. That could be because of its clients, culture, an upcoming exciting project or the business’ vision and values.
Taking the time to write a cover letter will help you to create a competitive advantage when you’re making applications and ensure you stand out from the crowd.