So, you’ve spent hours crafting your perfect CV. You’ve tailored it to the job you’re applying for. It’s so beautifully laid out that they’ll mistake you for a graphic designer. So why- after ALL of that- should you need to write a covering letter? Everything they need to know is in the CV, right?
Well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble but cover letters are crucial to getting considered for a role- even if they’re not specifically requested. And while CV templates are useful, cover letters should always be bespoke to the company and job you’re applying for.
Cover letters are like your ‘elevator pitch’ to the recruiter, telling them why they should even bother giving your CV a good look. After a while of reviewing CV’s, they all start to look the same and even if you’ve tailored your CV perfectly to the role, they’re all about you. Most companies want to know what you can offer them, and that goes beyond shouting about your skill set.
Your cover letter allows you to prove that you’ve read the job spec thoroughly, that you’ve done your research on the company. It’s your chance to prove to them that you are exactly what they’re looking for, and why.
It allows you to call attention to the elements on your CV that make you the right fit for the job, and to expand on details that you might not have been able to in your CV. For instance, if you’re applying for a job as an administrative assistant at a theatre, you could explain in your cover letter how passionate you are about theatre, and talk about any relevant experience in theatre or the arts to help prove this to the recruiter.
A good cover letter should sell you to the recruiter as a driven individual who is the right fit, not only for the role, but the company and its culture. Including sound bites in your cover letter that show you’ve done your research can really help your application stand out. For instance, if you’re applying to a marketing role, is there an ad campaign you’ve seen them run which you found interesting or inspiring? References like this show a sincere interest in working for that particular company or brand, and prove to the recruiter that you haven’t just copied and pasted a generic application over to them.
Another good tip is to subtly pepper your cover letter with the same language used in the job description. Quite often someone in HR is the one reviewing CVs and applications, which means they aren’t necessarily familiar with what goes into that particular role. By mirroring the language in the job spec, even if the person reviewing the applications doesn’t have in-depth knowledge of the role requirements, they’ll be able to compare your cover letter with the job spec and more easily see a match. This can make it easier to bring your CV into the pile for consideration.
At the end of the day, getting those first jobs is extremely competitive, so anything you can do to elevate your application is worth doing, and worth doing well. Make sure you’ve proofread it thoroughly (getting a second opinion is a good idea too, to help pick up any final errors) as mistakes on your cover letter or CV will undermine your professionalism.
A good cover letter can make or break your job application, so be sure to take your time to craft it carefully. Remember: you’re selling yourself as an asset to that company. You’ve worked hard to get the experience and knowledge you’ve got – your cover letter is your time to shine!