Do you always include a cover letter when you are applying for a job? If you do then you are certainly in the minority. And yet a well written cover letter can almost secure you an interview all by itself.
If you are looking for a way to get a ‘leg up’ on the other people who are applying for the role, if you want to help yourself stand out, then a cover letter is certainly the way to go. And yet every year only a small minority of people applying for jobs will do so. Madness!
Are Cover Letters Important Then?
Yes, yes, thrice yes. A cover letter is a way of relating your experience to a company, to adjusting things so that the people reading it are able to read your CV in the ‘frame of mind’ that you want them to be in. It can provide context that would otherwise be lacking.
How often have you considered yourself perfect for a job that you have applied for, only to be turned down with no interview? Usually this means that they don’t realise how perfect you are for the role. Most employers won’t change their minds afterwards, far more important, then, to make a good first impression…with a cover letter.
How Cover Letters Help
With a cover letter you should be relating your experience to the role that you are applying for. This enables anyone reading it to out into context the skills they will read on your CV.
A couple of examples.
Example 1. You are applying for an engineering role, which includes working with microprocessor x. Now you might have on your CV that you have used microprocessor x, but not much detail. Use your cover letter to talk about the length of time and the many projects that you have undertaken with microprocessor x – information they would never have known just by looking at your CV.
Example 2. You are going for a sales job, selling computer systems to large nationwide companies. Now it might be that you don’t have computer system sales knowledge – but if you have a large amount of large company experience you could talk about the sales you have made there and the huge amount of contacts you have developed – and you could bet your last rand a company targeting big companies will be interested in discussing that!
As you can see you can use a cover letter to explain your own skills in relation to the job you are applying for – either direct skills in the case of example 1, or how your indirect skills can be a big advantage (in the case of example 2) – can be a big advantage in going for a role.
You can cut out the risk of people not understanding how your skill set suits the role described, by spelling it out to them in black and white – as well as pointing out other advantages that you have they could benefit from, benefits they may otherwise never have considered.