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Cover letters: Do they matter?

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I'm often asked by job seekers whether or not they should include a cover letter with their applications. My answer is always a resounding 'Yes', even though I know there is a chance it will never be read!

You might well ask why you should bother taking the time to craft a cover letter to support your application if no one will read it.

That's a great question.

 The answer is, quite simply, that while there are recruiters and hiring managers out there who don't value the cover letter - preferring to go straight to the CV to get the facts, there are also many who do. As a job seeker you have absolutely no way of knowing which ones are which when you apply for a job. So it's always a good idea to include one and assume it will be read.

While recruiters have differing opinions on the importance of the cover letter, they do seem to agree on one thing. No one likes a cover letter that says nothing of value. You know the ones I mean. The ones that say something like "Please find attached my CV in application of the position....". You're telling the recruiter something they already know. I've seen so many cover letters like that and it really is a waste of time. It should be no surprise then that busy recruiters don't always bother to read them.

It's important to put as much effort into crafting the perfect cover letter as it is to your CV. It provides you with another opportunity to stand out and to give the recruiter something to distinguish you from the other applicants.

So what should you include in your cover letter?

  • Recruiters are typically managing more than one recruitment process so make sure you make it clear which job you are applying for.
  • Make sure you use the person's name. If you don't know it see if you can find out.
  • Let them know why you are interested in the position and the company. Do your research and give them a genuine, good reason.
  • Tell them why they should pick you. It's important to make sure you target the letter to the job you're applying for, so tie in your skills and experience to their requirements. Make sure you demonstrate how you will add value.

A good cover letter will give you the opportunity to connect with the recruiter and if written properly will make them want to find out more. Don't make the mistake of using a generic letter that you submit with all applications. I've seen a few of those too and it's never good when you receive one which was clearly intended for a completely different job in a different company.

Make your cover letter count!

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Guest Sunday, 05 July 2020

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