You have spent considerable time and effort “spring cleaning” your CV and marketing yourself to potential employees, so you may wonder why many job advertisements ask for a covering letter, after all your CV covers pretty much all they need to know. One rule of thumb, if you are making a direct application to an employer for a position ALWAYS include a covering letter, and here are our reasons why and how to get the best response from your letter.
Get yourself noticed – The covering letter puts flesh on the bare bones of your CV and any formal application form. It demonstrates your qualities and competencies that the job calls for and makes a statement about yourself and your suitability for the job. By giving the personal touch that your CV doesn’t, it should answer the question: “why someone should look at your CV?” and ultimately “why they should invite you for an interview?”.
Be personal – Each covering letter should be tailored for not only the specific role you are applying for but also the employer themselves. Make the person who reads it feel special, that your letter is addressed to the hiring manager personally and is not one of fifty identical letters you are sending out without consideration. Include your understanding of the position and the organisation and how you feel you would fit not only the criteria but the company ethos and values.
Convey your passion – “I have a real interest in working as a ….” will no longer do, in amongst a mountain of CVs hiring managers need to be inspired by your covering letter. Say why you decided to pursue this career, what first brought their company and their position to your attention. A word of caution however, do not let your “creative flair” run away with you, keep it succinct, honest and to the point and you won’t go far wrong.
Leave them wanting to know more – Your covering letter needs a powerful finish, a paragraph that conveys your eagerness and enthusiasm to meet them, so include the dates you are available for interview and of course say ”thank-you” to the employer for taking the time to read the letter.
REMEMBER… Your cover letter does not need to be “War and Peace”, neither should it replicate the content of your CV, so keep it to a maximum of four short paragraphs. Check for spelling and grammar, do not rely wholly on spell checkers, ask friends and family to proof read your letter, and ask them for feedback, do they “want to know more” after reading it? And one final tip; if you are emailing a CV put your covering letter in the body of the email as well, as it may be misidentified as spam.
For more helpful hints and tips on how to get the best from your job search, take a look at the other entries in our career services blog.