If you have spent considerable time and effort “spring cleaning” your CV and marketing yourself to potential employees, you may wonder why many job advertisements ask for a covering letter - after all, your CV covers pretty much all they need to know. However, as a golden rule, if you are making a direct application to an employer for a position, you should ALWAYS include a covering letter. Here are our reasons why you should include one, and how to get the best response...
Get yourself noticed
The covering letter adds a personality to 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 questions: “why should someone look at my CV?” and ultimately, “why should they invite me for an interview?”.
Each covering letter should be tailored to not only the specific role you are applying for, but also the employer themselves. Address your letter to the hiring manager personally, and ensure that your letter 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. Detail why you decided to pursue that specific career, what 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.
Leave them wanting to know more
Your covering letter needs a powerful finish - a paragraph that conveys your eagerness and enthusiasm to meet the company. Include the dates you are available for interview and remember to say ”thank-you” to the employer for taking the time to read the letter.
Your cover letter does not need to be essay length, and it shouldn't 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. Additionally, ask them for feedback; do they “want to know more” after reading it? Finally, 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.