Cover Letters, how much weight do they add? And who is reading them anyway?
In 2017 the Job Seeker Nation Study concluded that approximately 26% of recruiters read cover letters and consider them important in their decision to hire. Another study on employer preference suggested that 56% wanted applicants to attach a cover letter. Until a study reveals 0% you should consider a cover letter as important because if others deem it relevant you should make it a priority. However, it is possible in 2021 to highlight your skills and achievements more creatively than ever before, we will cover some of these below as well as our tips on how to write the more traditional cover letter should you be asked to do so, or if it simply strikes your fancy!
A list of things you might want to consider before writing a traditional cover letter:
- If you have applied through a recruiter (and if you have, we hope it is Kameo!) use us as your cover letter, allow us to bridge the gap between you and the hiring manager – we know better than most you can’t cover everything in your CV but we can help you ensure the hiring manager knows exactly why you think you’re best suited to the role in question.
- Utilise your LinkedIn profile, if you apply for a role via LinkedIn tweak your CV in line with the position you have applied for. Alter your about me section, check your hobbies and interests – do any of these tie in with employee well-being offered by the company you hope to work for? Follow the company on LinkedIn; if they are regular social media users it will ensure you are up to date with their latest news.
- Consider the size of the company you’re applying for: if they are a small enterprise, have a lower hiring volume or the role is particularly niche and you are sending the cover letter directly to the hiring manager the likelihood is this person will take the time to read your cover letter.
- Depending on the industry you work in you might have a portfolio of work you have done throughout your career and you might want to include the link to this on your CV, consider this the 2021 cover letter and tweak according to the role you have applied for e.g. if the role you are applying for requires you to manage a team we would advise including testimonials / copy / graphics / PowerPoint / graphs or whatever is relevant from your background to showcase evidence of this.
I have been asked to write a traditional cover letter, where do I start?
- Tailor it to the role in question, a generic cover letter is obvious and could potentially do more harm than good. Focus on the skills and abilities you have which make you the ideal candidate for the role.
- Top Tip: before you start make a list of the skills required for the role, tick the ones you have and provide a demonstrable example.
- Research the company, and by research we don’t suggest you read the first page of their website. Go beyond this, you want to work there don’t you? Find the news page, investigate their social media presence, find out their greatest achievements from the past year and use those to help you craft a cover letter which clearly demonstrates your interest in the company.
- Your cover letter should be persuasive, ultimately it is one of two or three tools you have that can convince the hiring manager to meet you. Persuasive language includes, but is not limited to, the use of the personal pronoun ‘I’, stats and figures, several points which support the statement you are making, opinions and emotive language.
- Consider presentation and format, it should mirror your CV in terms of font and size. You DO NOT need artwork or photos on a traditional cover letter.
- Your cover letter should be no more than four of five paragraphs:
- A powerful opening statement
- The skills you have which make you a suitable fit the role, prepare examples
- Demonstrate your interest and therefore research you have carried out on the company, what is their culture/ values / ethos? Do these resonate with you now? If so, tell them.
- If necessary, cover off gaps in your CV / periods of unemployment, relevant training / education, hobbies, voluntary work etc (only if necessary).
- A final closing statement, what difference will your presence make to their business.
Above all else, if writing a cover letter or equivalent feels like a chore, ask yourself this how much do you want this job? Because if you truly want to explore this opportunity the extras you do now alongside a well-prepared CV is your one-way ticket to an interview.