Before we delve into what recruiters or hiring managers look for in a cover letter, let’s take a look at what a cover letter actually is. Once we are clear on the purpose of the cover letter, it’s much easier to see what information and structure you should put into the cover letter.
So, what is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a personal introduction. Unlike your resume which specifies your experience, education, and full skill set, a cover letter should be specifically written with the job you’re applying for in mind allowing you to highlight certain areas you think would make you right for the role. A cover letter must always accompany a CV or resume, it should never be sent on its own.
The only way you land a job is through the interview, and the resume is what gets you the job interview, however, a cover letter can contribute to the resume. They are a great way to grab attention when written in the right way, they enable you to show a little bit more about yourself and your interest in the role, starting off on a good foot will only entice recruiters or hiring managers to be excited to read your resume.
A CareerBuilder study found that 49% of HR managers consider a covering letter the second best thing to give your resume a boost.
With that in mind let’s look at what should be going into your cover letter:
- Your details: Name, address, phone number
- Address the letter to the name of the hiring manager is possible, if not a simple Dear Hiring Manager is just fine.
- Introduce yourself and specify how you came across this position
- Highlight how your skills and experience are what the employers need, and make sure they are specific or transferable and key competencies to the role.
- Show your genuine enthusiasm, excitement, motivation, and passion for the particular role.
- Show how you can benefit the company, and why you are right for the role.
- Closing statement – thank them for their time, and invite them to give you a call at any time (remember to give your phone number).
It’s important to:
- Be clear and concise
- Keep paragraphs short and direct
- Back up any statements you make with facts & figures
- Choose a professional font
- Proofread your letter
It’s perfectly fine to use a template, however, just like Resumes, cover letters need to be tailored to each role. Make sure the cover letter is not too long, if you can fit everything into four short paragraphs, ideally it should be contained to just one page. A cover letter is often a truer reflection of a candidate’s writing skills, which is why taking the time on it and proofreading it is imperative, remember this will be the first impression you make. Do thorough research, read the job ad, look on the website and be clear on the role and company you are approaching. This will shine through and show your care and attention to detail.
Some people believe that cover letters are unnecessary, however, we feel that they have a place even if only a small one. Just make sure that if specified not to send a cover letter, then do not send a cover letter.
At Citrus Connect Recruitment we find that a resume only really tells half of a story. We don’t know what candidates’ strengths, interests, goals, and needs are until we speak to them, usually by the initial screening phone call. A cover letter is helpful to give us an overview and looking at experiences is most definitely more insightful.
So to round up, they don’t play a major part but they have a benefit and really it doesn’t take much effort for job seekers to really give it everything they have got. So sending a cover letter can most definitely do more good than it can harm. Make sure your cover letter is written so that the reader cannot possibly pass it over without opening the resume document itself.