Is it really necessary to write a cover letter with every job application? Cover letters can be a time-consuming task and when you’re applying for dozens of jobs everyday, it can feel as though writing cover letters is holding back your job search. But we would argue that taking the time to write a cover letter will help accelerate your job search in the long-run as you stand out from other candidates and gain more interviews.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one page document intended for a prospective employer to accompany your CV or job application. The purpose of a cover letter is to provide additional information about your professional background that’s not on your CV – information that will convince the hiring manager they need to invite you in for an interview.
When NOT to include a cover letter
Whilst we would love to say it’s best to include a cover letter with every application, we know it’s not always necessary or possible. Here’s when you can skip the cover letter:
- When you can’t upload one
- When the employer isn’t accepting them
- When you’re strapped for time
- When you’re applying for jobs just for the interview practice
How to write a cover letter that gets noticed
Address it to the hiring manager
One of the best ways to get your cover letter noticed is to ensure it’s addressed to the hiring manager by name instead of just ‘Sir/Madam’. You may need to do a little digging if you’re not sure of their name. This can be done by calling the company and asking who is in charge of this vacancy.
Keep it short
Don’t overdo it in the cover letter. Hiring managers are short on time so they will only want to read your cover letter if it looks easy to digest. Keep it to one A4 page and use 3-4 paragraphs to break up the text.
Don’t repeat your CV
You don’t want to waste the hiring manager’s time by repeating what’s written in your CV. Bring some new information to the table that will help support your CV.
Tailor your cover letter
Just like we recommend tailoring your CV to each job application, you should also tailor your cover letter too so the hiring manager knows you’ve written it especially for them.
Create a template
Although we want you to tailor each cover letter, there’s nothing stopping you from creating a customisable template. This will save you time but still allow you to personalise your cover letter to the employer.
Use the job description
When it comes to writing cover letters, the job description is your best friend. You need to understand all the key skills the employer is looking for, and center your cover letter around some of those key skills using keywords from the job ad. This is a sure way to stop the hiring manager in their tracks!
Although it’s a good idea to incorporate keywords from the job description into your cover letter, don’t just leave it there. Go one step further by providing tangible examples of when you’ve used these skills in the workplace.
As with your CV, make sure you proofread your cover letter too. One typo has the ability to undo all your hard work, so don’t fall at this simple step. Double-check it yourself, use online spell checker and grammar tools, and ask a friend or family member to read it through.
Send as an attachment
Although you might be submitting your CV by email, never write your cover letter into the body of the email. Always attach it as a separate file that the hiring manager can download and easily print.
Cover your back
You can never go wrong by including a cover letter – it will only ever strengthen your application. If you’re applying for jobs in a competitive field, there’s no doubt you’ll want to create a standout cover letter to push your application through to the interview stages. Just be sure to write a strong opening paragraph to grab the hiring manager’s attention!