How Important Is a Cover Letter in 2021? – Part Two
What is a cover letter? It’s is a document that you will submit alongside your resume when applying for a job. It enables you to introduce yourself as a professional, along with outlining why you are a good fit for the role before the hiring manager finds out more about you in your resume. In our last blog, we gave you some reasons why the cover letter is still not only relevant but essential. Here are some more reasons.
When addressing your cover letter, consider what argument you would best present to a potential employer if you only had a minute in which to do so. Typically, this is equal to the time in which it takes to read a cover letter. By presenting your best qualities to the potential employer, the employer gets to “know” you in a sense. The more identifiable you present yourself as well, the more you show how you are the perfect candidate for the applied for position, the more the employer is likely to read your resume with increased interest. Bluntly put, if you present a great argument in the cover letter, the potential employer will be looking for a reason to hire you when viewing your resume and not a reason to dismiss it.
Here at Select Resumes, clients often ask us about what to leave out and what to put in. This is especially pertinent around the issues of employment breaks or skills gaps. In a nutshell, don’t lie – but it may be prudent to be a little economical with the entire story. What do we mean? Given the difficult climate for job seekers at the moment, many people face this dilemma. Illustrate that while you may not have been working for a while or don’t meet quite all the requirements of the role, you have made efforts to stay aware of the field you are focused on developing a career in by reading industry articles online or perhaps teaching yourself the latest version of software packages. The key is to let prospective employers know you have been using your time wisely and are making every effort to be the right candidate. At the end of the day, if you don’t have the experience, you don’t have it. Showing a real desire and willingness to get this experience is a good idea. Is there any research you could do in advance that demonstrates you’ve taken small steps to help?
One question we asked about a lot regarding cover letters is length. Due to the volume of applications, recruiters want cover letters to be succinct, so it is really important to focus on the quality of information you are putting in there – our rule of thumb would be one page. Include some brief examples of your suitability but choose the ones you think are the most important for the job and that they would find interesting. Make your cover letter stand out by being interesting and readable and avoid making statements that anyone could say, such as “I have great communication skills”. Make every word count.
Lastly, remember; don’t feel afraid to SHOUT about yourself. It’s great to see achievements and good things that you have done on a cover letter. This makes you memorable, for example; “I was promoted to team leader whilst volunteering for a project”.
It is important to be as truthful and honest as possible in both your resume and cover letter, you don’t want to be in the interview with the employer and them to call you out on something you wrote in your cover letter, but it wasn’t the whole truth! When concluding, make sure to thank the employer for taking the time to read your cover letter and for considering your application for the job role.
And one final note on cover letters: Make sure it’s concise and grammatically correct. A quick read of your cover letter will speak volumes about your communication skills – an important requirement for most jobs. So, be succinct with your points and don’t blow it with poor spelling or grammar.
Remember, your cover letter should complement your resume, not replicate it – make sure it’s moving you one step closer to an interview!