Have you heard that the cover letter is no longer required when applying for jobs? Well, it’s true. But it isn’t. Whilst use of cover letters seems to be on the wane, they are still valuable in some circumstances, and we’re not sounding the death knell for them just yet.
Despite the rise of digital communication, a CV and cover letter are still the main way to get yourself an interview. The cover letter may now be in the form of an email, rather than on a piece of paper in the post, but it’s still important; sending a CV without any context at all is selling yourself short, especially if you have skills and experience which aren’t covered by your CV.
Here’s why, despite the cover letter doom-mongers, cover letters still have their place in the 21st century.
Cover letters give you a chance to explain gaps
Your cover letter provides one of the only ways to address gaps in your CV which may put off potential recruiters. The difference between getting into that interview room could be that you have provided a reason for your gap in work history. Employers trying find reasons to cut the number of candidates down may use your work history gap as an excuse. A cover letter lets you address this directly, and overcome this obstacle.
Cover letters allow you to provide context to your CV
When you move into different work fields, the skills you believe are relevant and help you stand out amongst the crowd might not be so obvious to an employer who hasn’t met you and is onto their 50th application. Your cover letter should explain why you want the job you’re applying for, and how your CV shows you’re the perfect candidate and a good cultural fit for the company. Connect the dots for your potential employer as they might not have the time or energy to do so themselves.
As the article points out, cover letters are often read after the CV – once someone is interested they want to learn more. If you treat your cover letter as an afterthought, it’ll read that way to the person you want to hire you. Make sure your cover letter explains why you want to have this job and remember that it’s your one chance to do this; don’t do yourself a poor job by letting spelling mistakes go unnoticed. Employers will want to know you put the effort into your cover letter, and one of the easiest ways to spot you didn’t is to pick up on a spelling error.
Make sure you craft a different cover letter for every job you apply for. You may not need to adapt your CV too much each time, but you should your cover letter. You need to show you’ve read the job advertisement and that you have the skills and experience required, or why you don’t!
Need to know more? See: http://uk.businessinsider.com/biggest-cover-letter-mistakes-2015-3
Cover letters allow you to show your personality
A CV is great at giving employers your educational and professional headlines but they don’t provide much scope for personality. While you can alter your qualifications and professional experience on your CV to an extent, you can and should change up your cover letter to suit each job you’re applying for, and you get to inject some personality too. CVs can be terribly dull – cover letters don’t need to be!
Cover letters make the employer’s job easier
The employer doesn’t want to read every word of every CV they get. Grab their attention in the first paragraph of your cover letter and their job is easier, and you’re more likely to get on to the shortlist.
Recruiters and employers are not psychic, and a cover letter can tell them the who/what/why/when very quickly and painlessly. Don’t make your employer’s life difficult before you’ve even started work for them.
Our verdict – while we don’t necessarily need to see a cover letter for every job we recruit for, it can often be a good thing, as long as it’s not a copy and paste job – and yes, we can spot these a mile off. If you feel you need to provide one to explain the finer points, then please do. But if you don’t, then don’t!
If you need help writing a CV, check out our CV clinic