As most (if not all) of us know, a resume or CV is very important when we are searching for a job. However, it is not necessarily the most important among all the requirements you need to present in the application process. As you can see, the cover letter is also essential.
What Is a Cover Letter
A cover letter is a letter of introduction that shows in detail your key credentials and accomplishments fit for a job opening. Adding focus to your resume, it is seriously considered by some employers, so it should be part of your job-search strategy.
Why Is It So Important
Many people believe that a strategically targeted cover letter is a very effective weapon you can use to stand out from the competition in job searching. Why?
1. Remember that a CV is of limited value to any employer, especially when they do not know what kind of work you want to perform. Well, a cover letter will state the type of position you are seeking for and the exact qualifications for that position.
2. This type of letter allows you to target the employer and the job in a very specific way, which leaves your resume marketing your qualities, experience and skills as part of the bigger picture. And as this letter is different each time you apply for a job, your resume then needs less tweaking.
3. A cover letter can explain things that cannot be detailed in the resume. So, if you have large gaps in your employment history, changing the focus of your career, re-entering the job market or conducting a long-distance job-search can be explained in a thorough and positive manner in this letter.
4. This letter does not only repeat your CV in a shorter form, but also tells the hiring personnel what it is about the job that interests you and why you want to work for the company. It also indicates the unique qualities and skills you would bring to them.
Insights from the Experts
According to communications specialist and VP of Aesthetic Cogency Today, Lauren Nelson, a CV scan or a quick Google search today could tell everything that is needed to be known about a job applicant—work history, educational background, achievements, credentials, awards, etc. And no matter how in-depth a CV is, it would not suffice to tell the candidate’s entire story to his/her prospective employer. “I don’t care if your résumé is dozens pages of awards and sheer greatness,” she wrote on a LinkedIn post. “You’ve lost me.”
Nelson pointed out that a well-written cover letter can be more important than an impressive CV, as it reveals your attention to detail and work ethic, as well as offers a glimpse into your personality that cannot be shown on a list of achievements. When hiring, she made it clear that she always requires cover letters with job applications, yet only not more than half of them comply with such a requirement. Aside from this, only about a 25% of those who do send cover letters actually tailor them to the job, which makes it easier for Nelson to select the best from the rest.
She explained, “If you can’t follow simple instructions in the application process, I have little to no faith in your ability to take direction on the job.” Moreover, she said that she can tell whether an applicant’s background is a good match for the target position or not just by looking at what he/she includes in his/her cover letter. “If you cannot communicate why your experience and skills are relevant to the job, I’m not sure you understand what the position entails, or that your background brings all that much value to the table,” she stated. On the other hand, she can tell if candidates took the time to craft a detailed and concise cover letter for the target position, which would prompt her to schedule an interview. “I would rather have a determined, passionate individual with a strong work ethic on my team than an Ivy League degree without tenacity every single time,” she said.
Also, according to a survey by Robert Half, a pioneer company in the concept of professional staffing services, about 90% percent of executives they have polled expressed value for cover letters when assessing job applicants. Though the process of hiring and applying for jobs has mostly moved online, it is still of great importance for applicants to submit a cover letter.
So, is this type of letter important? Most definitely yes, especially when you see your competition taking the initiative to submit one.
Writing a Good Cover Letter
It is not a simple task to write a killer cover letter—it requires knowledge, understanding and careful thought. Also, remember that it must be tailored to each job opening and each employer. As many recruiters and employers would read it first and some would not even proceed to the CV if they are not satisfied with the content of the cover letter, you should consider this document as essential when job hunting. Here are tips on writing a good cover letter:
- Do some research on the job and employer before writing.
- Write it in an engaging manner using keywords that are applicable to the job.
- Make sure your letter would imply that you took the effort to learn about the company by obtaining relevant information, which will be useful to the interview if you are selected.
So, what if the employer details are not disclosed in the advert? Well, you can write the letter specifically to the job by addressing the key requirements indicated and make sure it expresses your enthusiasm. Here are some lines you can adapt to your own cover letter: “You are my employer of choice”; “I have reviewed your website and understand your business”; “I really want to work for an organization with your values”; “I believe my personality fits with your organizational culture”. All of these will entail that you are fitted to your prospective company.
Until today, many applicants still treat the cover letter as an afterthought and put more effort into their CVs. But actually, such an introductory document is instrumental in helping your CV make its way to the top of the pile applications. Its importance really cannot be overstated.