When applying for a new position, many job descriptions request a cover letter and it’s always promoted by job sites to ‘attach a cover letter’, but is it worth your time?
For the majority of cover letters we receive, unfortunately our conclusion would be a resounding no. Sometimes the cover letter might even work against you!
We receive cover letters addressed to completely different companies and consultants which are completely and utterly generic. It’s quite clear all the details of the role have been copied and pasted into an existing cover letter, and the problem with this approach is that the letter is irrelevant for the role applied for.
As a specialist recruitment agency we are looking for certain skill sets, people who are passionate and taking their time to send their CV to select companies and roles, not people who don’t know what the role is about and talk about irrelevant experience they have gained in their cover letter
There are huge pluses to cover letters, you can get noticed for roles that your CV might not have seemed that relevant for, you can describe why you fit the role well, but in order to be worthwhile, they must be written properly.
The general rule is that your CV talks about facts and documents your career history. It’s the cover letter which could show why you are suitable for that particular role.
Here are our tips on how to write a good cover letter, and what to avoid:
- Make it personal. Address to person named in the advertisement. If no one is named, make a phone call and try and find out, worst case write sir or madam, but make sure you take the time to check
- Keep it brief. Hiring managers and recruitment consultants are generally very time poor, a full page cover letter detailing all the things you learnt during your studies and earlier work experience is not necessary, stick to what is important for that role.
- Make it relevant. Sounds simple but it’s so often badly done. Make sure you address the skills required in a job description, and even if you don’t have all these skills, how other experiences help this. Show WHY you’re suitable for this role.
This is a very basic guide, and it’s similar to how we would describe skills when sending a resume to one of our clients for a role we’re working on. It’s important to highlight the most relevant and important skills, not tell your life story.
You are better not to send a cover letter than to send a page of talk that is irrelevant to the role you’re applying for.
Let us know if you need any help with writing your cover letter and we can help.