Is the cover letter still a thing? Or, is it just an old-school recruitment technique that we no longer need?
The truth is, in some industries - covering letters can, in fact, make or break your application. They can be an excellent insight into who you are, add colour to your CV, and enable you to tell a story and advance yourself in the recruitment process.
#1 Start with a strong opening
Your cover letter accompanies your CV, so you want to ensure that your opening is strong, to the point, and captures their attention immediately! Introducing yourself is a no-go (because realistically, they’ll have your basic details in their applicant tracking system already) - instead, focus on talking about what you do and who you are instead of facts that they can already ascertain from your CV.
#2 Talk to your audience
Each cover letter is going to require you to talk to a slightly different audience each time - so be mindful of this and the language that you use to talk to them! If you’re applying for a small start-up, the way you’d address them, talk about their organisation and talk about yourself is drastically different from a global corporate. If they use informal language on their website - feel free to mimic that in your cover letter. It shouldn’t be a one size fits all approach.
#3 Add some personality
Not everybody is going to be a natural writer - but the idea isn’t to be perfect when crafting a cover letter. If you want to add some humour in there, do. Or, if you want to tell a story in your cover letter - there are no rules to what you can and can’t do! Unless you’re given a guide on what is important to include in a cover letter, feel free to be creative. Ultimately, you want your cover letter to be a complementary piece of collateral to your CV, so think of the CV as the “factual” and the cover letter as the “storytelling”.
#4 Short and sweet
Just like your CV, aim to have a cover letter that is short and sweet - around half a page of A4 (between font sizes 10 and 11). You should be able to articulate yourself well in around 6–7 sentences. Unless the application asks for a longer cover letter - remember the more succinct, the better.
#5 Conclude positively and with action
What is going to make you stand out? Describe and summarise why you’d be the ideal candidate for the job, tie in all of your points and express how enthusiastic you are to hear back from them.
Remember, cover letters enable you to be personalised in your job search, in fact - it might be a deciding factor that separates you from the rest. Ultimately, you want to ensure that you can present yourself in the best way possible when applying. So, a cover letter could be the golden ticket to your new opportunity…