It’s 2017 – why do I need a cover letter?
Everybody knows that you need an awesome CV to boost your chances of getting hired. So you put all your effort into that. You spend hours designing and tweaking it, only to find that when it comes to sending off an application, there’s a “Cover Letter*” section.
After spending what felt like forever perfecting your CV, the last thing you want to do is craft a cover letter to match. Who even reads them, anyway?
It can be tempting to race through the process. Some choose to simply introduce themselves and say something along the lines of: “I’ve attached my CV. Look forward to hearing from you”. Believe me, I get it. But if a company specifically requests one, you want to put your best foot forward, don’t you? Keep reading to learn why exactly cover letters are important and why to take them seriously.
1. To introduce yourself and show your personality.
Look at it this way – your CV is your opportunity to show off your experience and skills; your cover letter is the chance to show your personality. Think of a cover letter as a way to introduce yourself to your future employer. Employers are placing greater emphasis on cultural fit when it comes to recruiting, so do your research into their company culture and let your personality shine through.
This your chance to connect with the recruiter at the other end. Show them how you’re different from all the other applicants. It could be the difference between being offered an interview or passed over. If you lack certain skills that are listed as a requirement, but your cover letter shows that you’d make a great fit within the company, a recruiter is likely to consider you for an interview. But, if you don’t include a compelling cover letter, you’re more likely to miss your chance.
2. To connect the experience on your CV to the job description.
Show the recruiter that you’re a perfect fit for the role in your cover letter. It’s your chance to link your skills and experiences to the job description, instead of leaving it up to the recruiter to connect the two.
For example, let’s say you are applying for a sales position. The ideal candidate for the role is required to be independent and self-motivated. You could write about how you worked alone on a project and generated XYZ results and exceeded your targets.
Got it? You want to make sure the recruiter doesn’t have to jump through hoops trying to connect what your role entailed at your last job and how it’s relevant now.
3. To demonstrate your written communication ability.
If the vacancy you’re applying for places emphasis on written communication (as most companies require nowadays), your cover letter serves as a writing sample that demonstrates your ability. It’s your opportunity to prove that you’re capable of expressing yourself fluently, writing concisely and that you have a grasp on correct grammar. You’ve already bullet-pointed your skills and experience in your CV. Use your cover letter as a writing sample to show your creativity and go into a little (but not too much) detail about it all.
4. To promote yourself.
The final (and perhaps most important) reason why you need a cover letter is simple: to promote yourself!
Your cover letter is the place for you to sell yourself to the recruiter. You can actually elaborate on your strengths and the accomplishments you achieved through previous experience. Use the opportunity to describe how your skills make you ideal for the position, and show the recruiter how you’d be an asset to their company.
So, if the next vacancy you apply for requires you to send a cover letter alongside your CV, you’ll understand why you should spend longer than a couple of minutes writing it. Remember – it could be the difference between being offered an interview or not.
Do you have any advice for jobseekers out there struggling with their cover letters? Let us know in the comments section below.