To write or not to write?
Writing your cover letter is probably one of the most dreaded parts of the job search process. You’ve just finished updating your CV, quite a task in itself – do you really need to write a cover letter? The reason many of us feel like this is that the jury is still out on the importance of cover letters. Many say that most recruiters don’t bother reading them, so why bother writing them. On the flipside, others claim that when competition is tough, your cover letter is what helps the hiring manager make the decision. So is it really necessary? We say Yes. Almost always.
Reasons Why you should…
Unless the job description specifically requests that you don’t send in a cover letter, or there is no space for an upload, then get scribbling.
- It shows motivation and enthusiasm. The hiring manager will see that you’ve taken the time to go the extra distance and this will stand out.
- It shows that you are serious about getting this job. No cover letter can give the recruiter the impression that you’ve sent your CV to a multitude of companies and that any job will do.
- It gives you the space to highlight why you would be ideal for the job and to match your successes with what the recruiter is looking for. It allows you to show your personal side and explain why hiring you would be a smart move.
- You can clarify certain issues that might be questionable in your CV, for example, why there is a gap between jobs or why you’re switching fields and what value you can bring with you from the previous sector.
…and How you should.
So now you’re convinced that writing a cover letter is in necessary to help you bag the job of your dreams, let’s move on to the how.
- The Length. Your cover letter should be concise and not be longer than two or three paragraphs. Over a page? Then you’ve waffled on for too long. Around 300 – 400 words is a good length to aim for.
- The Format. Keep it formal. The classic format would start with your name, email address and telephone number in the top right-hand corner. On the left write the name of the person you are addressing in full, the address of the company and the job reference. Careful if you are reusing the same cover letter. The last thing you want to do is send off a letter to your dream employer with the wrong address. If you don’t have the name of the person who will be reading this, then you can put the job title or given no other choice, leave it out. Use a professional font like arial or calibri and avoid any colours.
- Address it and sign off correctly. If you have the name of the hiring manager, be sure to use it. It will give a more personal feel and show that you know how to do things properly. In this case, then you should sign off ‘yours sincerely’ followed by your full name. On the other hand, if you don’t know the hiring manager’s name would be ‘yours faithfully’.
- Tailor-make it. Write your cover letter for the company you are applying to. Of course you don’t need to write a new one every time, but refresh it, add details that are relevant to that company and the role that you are applying for. Start off your cover letter with an introduction about why you are applying for this job, followed by some more insight about your experience you have gained (with out repeating what your CV says as that would be useless). Then move onto outlining why you are so keen to work for this company and why you believe you would fit in.
- Choose your words. Try not to use over-used words to describe yourself as you will just blend in. Think of your unique selling points and use words that pop.
Hopefully, after reading the above, you can see why most career experts would say that writing a cover letter is almost always the right decision. Some even go as far as to say that it is the most important part of the job application! With this advice in mind, don’t be tempted to skip this step as unexciting as it might seem. Follow our tips and write your cover letter to success! Good luck!