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If you are a job seeker looking to change careers or up-skill with a new company, you are most likely asking yourself whether a cover letter is essential or not. The answer- absolutely.
Due to the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, today's job seekers are outnumbering occupations by as much as 106 to one. As a result, the competition for candidates to secure employment has intensified.
For those seeking employment, it is a gamble between tailoring every resume and cover letter to a new job application or sending as many applications as possible.
In this article, we cover when a cover letter is most essential, writing tips on how to make a cover letter stand out, and how job seekers can make the most out of their cover letters.
When is writing a Cover Letter necessary?
Job seekers should include a cover letter when the job listing specifically asks for one. Candidates that leave cover letters out when hiring managers have requested one will most likely be passed over for applicants that have taken the time to include a letter with their resume. Think of writing a cover letter as an opportunity to sell your skills, job history and achievements for the advertised role.
If you are a job seeker with an extensive professional history outlined in your resume, a cover letter is a useful tool to call attention to work experience and skills that are most relevant to the job in question.
Alternatively, if are thinking of changing careers but do not possess a significant amount of relevant experience, job applicants can utilise their cover letter to:
- Communicate their passions and interests in the industry.
- Highlight their previous career strengths and why they should be given a job interview despite not being the most qualified candidate.
There are some scenarios in which you don’t need a cover letter. These situations include the following:
- The job opening does not require one.
- There is no place to upload a cover on the online application platform.
When to put extra effort to submit a Cover Letter?
As mentioned above, it is best practice to submit a cover letter for any job opening unless explicitly asked not to. That being said, there are a few scenarios where submitting a cover letter could mean getting ahead of the competition and winning over the hiring managers.
- You have essential information that you wish to outline: It might be the need for a relocation or that you have favourable technical expertise, a cover letter is your chance to explain this information in greater detail, especially if it adds value to a hiring company.
- A Job Seeker has a personal connection/referral with the company: If an acquaintance has personally referred you to the company in question, it is crucial to outline this information in the cover letter as it could move you up the ladder in the candidate pool.
- The Job Seeker has a previous link to the company: You could have completed an internship or know someone higher up the ranks outside of work. Whatever the case, it may work in your favour if you are upfront about any link you have with the company in your cover letter. Show those reading your cover letter that you are transparent.
How to make your Cover Letter stand out?
Call out Leadership Roles
Whether you have helped your previous roles win relevant awards, gone through leadership positions or possess advanced skills, outline them right at the beginning of a cover letter.
This is the most logical method to catch a recruiter's attention as soon as he/she starts reading.
For example, instead of "I am writing because I am interested in the new Project Manager position", sell yourself and outline your achievements. Instead, try "I believe that my experience in managing several in-house teams and delivering content within strict deadlines for high profile clients makes me an ideal candidate for the Project Manager position".
Avoid Cliches and show 'Real Results'
Writing that you are a "great team player" or an "effective collaborator" does not give recruiters a clearer image of your skills or strengths. Instead, support your experience with results that they can see with hard-earned numbers, and details. Think, "I have a strong work ethic", versus, "I have a strong work ethic, having written up to 30+ briefs on average per month with my previous company”..
Statistics are Power
As mentioned above, results that recruiters can visualise can make all the difference in getting you to the interview stages of your job search. Utilise statistics to help illustrate your growth and impact on companies that you have worked for. Employers love numbers and conversions. It demonstrates that you can speak their language and that you comprehend what they are looking for in a valuable employee: results. Earned your division more money than the previous person before you? Outline that output difference in your cover letter.
Verify the appropriate contact information
It is crucial to ensure that you address the appropriate contact name in the greeting of your cover letter. If you can not find it online, it will be beneficial to conduct research. Do not hesitate to call the company and ask for the hiring manager for the position advertised instead of the outdated "To whom this may concern". It is best to keep your cover letter as personalised as possible so the employer sees that you are resourceful.
Errors within your cover letter can significantly hurt your chances at landing an interview. Errors make your cover letter look thrown together, or worse uneducated. Ensure that you reread your cover letter thoroughly before submitting it.
Aim to keep your Cover Letter One Page
Recruiters and hiring managers are busy, so brevity is key! Keep your cover letter one page, and only include information that is relevant to the job advertised- stick to a few concise paragraphs- no more than 400 words if possible.
Are you a recent job seeker? At Gough Recruitment, our experienced team of recruiters will assist you during every stage of your employment journey from the job search to the final interview.