Why is a Cover Letter Important
A cover letter can determine whether your CV jumps to the attention of the reader or is put to one side. The importance of incorporating a well-written cover letter into your overall job hunt strategy cannot be overstated.
The point of the cover letter is not to rehash your CV. Instead, a strong cover letter will allow you the opportunity to summarise your experience and highlight your relevant skills and experience to the job advertised.
A cover letter can accomplish what a CV cannot
- Explain why you want this job.
- Describe how your skills and experience make you ideal for the position
- Explain traits you possess that would be useful for the role, which are not mentioned on your CV.
- Establish a connection with the company to which you are applying
- Explain job gaps
5 tips for a winning cover letter
1. Introduce yourself
After reviewing the job description and doing your research on the company, sit down at your computer and introduce yourself in writing as if you were speaking to a respected relative or colleague. In the first paragraph, mention the position for which you are applying, and why you are a great match for the role, based on your previous experience, education, etc.
2. Format it correctly
A cover letter should fit on one page, with normal font size (10 or 12 point, in a readable font style such as Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri) and generally kept to 3 or 4 paragraphs. Include your name and contact information at the top in a business letter format.
Address the cover letter to the Hiring Manager who oversees the position for which you are applying. If you aren’t sure, call the office and find out. Be sure to spell the Manager’s name correctly and include their title in the address portion of the cover letter.
3. Be concise
Highlight special accomplishments relevant to the position but again do not rehash what you’ve said in your CV. Instead, use the cover letter as an opportunity to provide one or two brief anecdotes about your work history, and identify key responsibilities or qualifications that you possess.
Some companies use software programs to screen cover letters and CVs filtering for contextual keywords, so be sure to address key phrases you’ve identified in the job description such as the type of degree required, the number of years’ experience needed, specified software skills, organisation and communication abilities, project management background, etc.
4. Be original
Avoid the temptation to use cover letter templates or let a friend write your letter for you. Instead, take the time to promote your accomplishments. Remember to proof read your cover letter and ask a friend with excellent grammar, punctuation and spelling skills to review your letter.
5. Conclude on a high note
Close the letter by outlining your next steps, stating when you will contact the office to follow up and reinforce your enthusiasm for the job.
Never underestimate the importance of a cover letter if on the job hunt.