Nowadays there is much debate about the relevancy of cover letters. Some say they’re still an important part of the application process, while others think they’re outdated and no longer a necessity.
After all, writing a great cover letter can be time-consuming, especially when you’ve already spent long enough perfecting your CV. But if it could boost your chances of landing the job, isn’t it worth putting the time in?
If you’ve found yourself going around in circles trying to decide whether you should write a cover letter or not, your battle is about to be over. Below, we’ll discuss whether cover letters are still relevant today - or whether you should just stop typing and get applying:
Why do people submit cover letters?
Cover letters are your chance to introduce yourself to a recruiter or employer and to begin building rapport.
They allow you to expand on some of the key points from your CV, so the reader can get to know you a little better and understand why you’re a good fit for their role.
That’s why, until recently, job hunters were always encouraged to include a cover letter to boost their chances of being asked in for an interview.
When should you include a cover letter?
There are some situations in which you should definitely include a cover letter, most importantly when the job advert has explicitly asked for one.
If an employer asks you to include a cover letter and you choose to ignore this, it’s unlikely that they’ll even spend time reading your CV.
What’s more, if you’re applying for a role and you know you don’t have the required level of education or experience, a cover letter can help you to make your case.
Finally, if you simply want a chance to expand on your CV and really sell yourself to the recruiter, a cover letter is your best tool.
When should you not write a cover letter?
Similarly, you don’t need to include a cover letter if the job description specifically says not to.
You could also get away with not including a cover letter if you think your CV is so strong that it speaks for itself, or if you don’t have long until the deadline and you need to get your application in quick.
So, should I include a cover letter?
Our advice would be to always include a cover letter if you can - unless you’ve been explicitly told not to.
OK, there’s a chance that the recruiter won’t read it, but by including one, you’ll automatically boost your chances of impressing them and being invited in for an interview.
So, while the final decision is up to you, we suggest that if you’ve got the time, it’s always best to include a punchy cover letter.
Cover letter writing tips for 2019 and beyond
While we still believe the cover letter is relevant to your job search, we do agree that times have changed. These documents no longer need to be overly formal, lengthy letters like they were a decade ago.
When writing your cover letter, be sure to keep these tips in mind:
• Keep it short and sweet. Ideally, it’ll be less than an A4 page and made up of just a few short, snappy paragraphs.
• Make sure you tailor every cover letter to the specific company and role you’re applying to, aiming to match the job requirements as closely as possible.
• Forget about all the formalities and fancy signoffs – you should aim for a professional yet friendly tone. If possible, address the recruiter by name – it’s far more personable than a cold ‘to whom it may concern’.
• End your cover letter with a confident and punchy call-to-action to, such as ‘Please find my CV attached. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss how my skills could add value to your company.’.
This content is provided by Andrew Fennell, founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.