Even though online job applications are now the norm, cover letters are still widely used in the recruitment process. It could be argued that cover letters are more important in the digital age as many candidates are job searching across countries and industries where they are not established. New careers are being created so hirers will be looking for candidates who can clearly demonstrate their aptitude for the role and also why they want the role with some sincerity.
You cannot guarantee that every cover letter will be read thoroughly but many recruiters like to see a cover letter in an application as it shows that the candidate has really thought about why they are a suitable candidate for the role and they have considered why they want to work for your organisation. The secret is to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the hirer. What will make them interested to read your cover letter? The answer is usually some evidence that the candidate understands the role and can explain why they want the role with some authenticity.
A good example of this is from one of my clients who submitted a rushed and blandly written cover letter for an organisation she was very keen to join. She was not shortlisted for that role. After a few months there was another role and I encouraged her to reapply, but this time, write a cover letter that is authentic and accurate. My client wrote a really completing argument on why she wanted the role and why she was a great fit too. Not only she got the interview, she got the job and is still working for the organisation five years later!
The simple rule to follow is that if the hirer asks for a cover letter in your application, then write one! If you do not include a cover letter, you may not be shortlisted for the role.
Even though the cover letter is for the hirer’s purpose, writing a cover letter has many benefits for the candidate, for any level of seniority.
Here are five reasons why we recommend that you write a cover letter for every job application and how the process can be highly beneficial to you:
- Check that you are a credible candidate for the role. The primary purpose of a cover letter is for the candidate to describe in their own words how they are a good match for a specific role. i.e. do they have the skills, experience and qualifications needed for this role. Have you checked that you have at least 80% of the requirements listed in the essential criteria? If not, you are probably wasting your time applying for the wrong roles.
- Identifies why you want the role. The process of writing the cover letter will help you to assess why you want the role and why you want to work for that particular organisation. Your enthusiasm for the opportunity can come across in the way you write your cover letter. The hirer will be ‘reading between the lines’ to get an impression of your personality and interest in the role. Focus on writing your cover letter with some enthusiasm and honesty. Tell the reader why you are suitable for the role and why you want it in your own words!
- It helps you to be objective at a stressful time. It is widely recognised that job searching can very emotionally challenging. Are you showing your desperation to change jobs or focussing on tangible reasons why you want the role? Many candidates waste time on rushed application and wonder why they get a high number of rejections. One explanation for feeling a fraud or not wanting to talk about yourself is the psychological concept of Imposter Syndrome. It is common in high achievers, perfectionists or simply people with a fear of failure. You might like to take this short quiz to see how Imposter Syndrome may be holding you back from writing about yourself. Having a strategic approach to your job search will include writing a cover letter based on your analysis of your fit for the role, including evidence such as achievement stories. Writing a cover letter can help you to manage the emotions of the job search and assist you to objectively evaluate a role.
- Keeping your application consistent to your interview. The process of writing a cover letter will also help you to prepare for interviews and help you to form your answers that are consistent to the rest of your job application. For example, ‘Why are you the best candidate for the role?’ ‘Why do you want the role? Preparing and practicing answering these questions before applying for the role will also ensure that you are applying for a role that excites you, and why you want to do that particular job.
- Marketing your Personal Brand and skills. Cover letters provide an example of your writing skills and need to be consistent and authentic to your personal brand as displayed in your resume and online profiles. The ability to analysis the requirements for the role and summarise your suitability in a one page, focussed letter will convince the recruiter that it is worth reading your resume. Writing in your own voice will be more compelling to read too.
In summary, the need for a cover letter is alive and well. The process of writing a cover letter will help you to focus on why you are the best candidate for the role and why you want it. It will save you time by identifying the roles not to apply for! Instead of thinking if a cover letter as a chore, use it as a tool to differentiate yourself in a sea of lacklustre candidates.
Contact us for more information on our coaching programs to help you write your most effective cover letter. Here’s a link to our webpage on career coaching for professionals and executives.
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