Why your covering letter is so important
While having a great CV is vital if you want to impress recruiters, equal weight should be given to the importance of a high quality covering letter. A well written cover letter can set you apart from other candidates and highlight to employers your most sellable qualities. It also gives you the opportunity to focus more intently on the specific job at hand, giving you a chance to explain why you’re applying for that particular role.
Many candidates simply rehash the same old covering letter time and time again, which is obvious to the experienced eyes of recruiters. If you want to stand out from other applicants, going through the motions when it comes to your covering letter isn’t enough. Originality, honesty and a demonstration of a genuine passion for the role will make your application a memorable one, but fitting this within the confines of a single page can be tricky.
What should you include in your covering letter?
A good covering letter should be no longer than 1 side of A4, so if you aim to impress you’ve got to be articulate and get your point across quickly. While in theory you can talk about anything in your covering letter, discussing the following topics will help keep the letter relevant and, if done well, leaves recruiters with a lasting positive impression.
If there’s something you’re particularly proud of which you sets you apart from the competition, the covering letter is the place to say it. Maybe you’ve completed additional training which is highly relevant to the role, or you feel your voluntary experience can give you an edge above other candidates. Don’t be afraid to mention something which is already included in your CV, a busy recruiter might only give this document a cursory glance, so reiterating the point will make it stand out.
Ensure your covering letter is targeted to the role you’re applying for. Although rehashing an old covering letter will be quicker, it won’t be as effective. Be highly selective with what you include, getting rid of any irrelevant waffle and focussing on the key capabilities of the role in question. It’s not enough to say the role represents a challenge; you need to elaborate on this and get to the essence of what makes the position so appealing to you.
Anyone can say they’re a problem solver or confident communicator, but not all candidates can back this up. By providing examples where your attributes have helped in difficult situations, you can make the recruiter sit up and take notice.
The examples you provide should be specific to the position you’re going for, so if it’s a customer service role try and demonstrate how your actions improved customer satisfaction. For a sales job explain how you met your targets and turned around a difficult customer into a core client. It’s important to be honest when providing examples, as if you reach the interview stage you could be asked to go into further detail.
A well written covering letter could help cement interest in your application and clinch an interview, so ensuring your letter leaves a great first impression is always time well spent. If you’re struggling for time, enlisting the help of one of our CV Knowhow consultants to write your documents is always worthwhile. Our experienced consultants know the industry inside out and can help carefully target your cover letter to your chosen company, maximising your chances of success.