Some would say the cover letter is dead. Well research suggests this isn’t the case. It’s important to include one as part of your application.
When an employer is sorting through numerous CVs, your cover letter could make a big difference. It is there for you to introduce yourself, after all, you wouldn’t meet an employer in person without shaking their hand and stating your name. The cover letter allows you to target the employer in a very specific way, leaving the CV to speak for itself. It is the first piece of you the employer sees and first impressions count. In a recent survey, 53% of the people asked said they included a cover letter when given the option. So what can makes yours the best?
- Make it formal – you mean business, so let your cover letter reflect that. Get the layout right, your details aligned right and the employer details aligned left.
- Make the cover letter appeal to the employer on a personal level – make them think you are directly addressing them – using a name mentioned in the job advert can do this.
- Don’t be boring, be straight to the point and as brief as possible, or you risk losing the audience half way through.
- Use the skills and qualifications mentioned in the job advert to help you – reference to these will show the employer you have studied the job and understand what is required of the perfect candidate. At the same time, don’t go overboard, use the 3 to 4 most important items. The 2016 survey said that 64% of the employers asked would still consider a candidate even if they did not meet the qualification requirements.
- Tell the employer how the required skills are relevant to you – demonstrate that you have what it takes.
- Don’t hang on to the past – 82% of employers involved in the survey said they prefer to hear about more recent experience.
From an employer’s point of view: It is a common trait with humans to find it difficult to talk about your good points and extremely easy to talk about your bad points. In this situation, never talk about the things you can’t do – this will put the employer off and take the focus away from the good points. Employers are also keeping an eye out for mistakes, proof read the cover letter as you can lose points for spelling and grammar mistakes. Whatever your situation may be, try not to sound like you desperately need the job. This can give the impression that you are not so bothered about that specific role, you just need something. Employers look for the genuine candidates. Offering references to personal opinions and experiences can make your cover letter much more digestible and less like you copied it from the internet.
Ultimately – let the cover letter reflect you. How would you want someone to see you for the first time? Just got out of bed, or dazzling at your best. Now put it on paper.