Importance of a Cover Letter
A great CV highlighting relevant skills and experience will considerably boost your chances of getting an interview, whereas a poor one could ruin your chances before you’ve even begun.
But, even if you have a stellar CV, it’s all too easy to fall at the first hurdle with an inadequate covering letter, and this is usually what gives a potential employer a lasting first impression. The covering letter is a chance to introduce yourself and usually the first thing that a prospective employer reads. You should always send cover letters with your CV unless a job advert specifically asks otherwise.
But, even if you have a stellar CV, it’s all too easy to fall at the first hurdle with an inadequate covering letter, and this is usually what gives a potential employer a lasting first impression.
The covering letter is a chance to introduce yourself and usually the first thing that a prospective employer reads. You should always send cover letters with your CV unless a job advert specifically asks otherwise.
A good cover letter will briefly set out exactly why you are applying for the position and what you think you can offer the company. Do you have wonderful presentation skills for example? Did you previously work for a competitor and are able to demonstrate a strong understanding of the industry and your prospective employer’s role in that field?
Remember that first impressions last, and the covering letter to your CV is your opportunity to shine. A cover letter is not a time to be modest, if you have relevant skills and experience, show it.
Don't be afraid to use a little flattery either, if there is something about the organisation that impresses you, include this too but don't grovel! You should adopt an attitude where you want to show them you want the job, but also believe they should want you equally. Grovelling will undermine your application and give the impression to the reader that you are making up in pleading what you may lack in skills.
Rather than repeating your CV ad-hoc, use the cover letter as an opportunity to draw attention to the achievements and qualifications which you feel are most relevant.
Don’t be afraid of writing a cover letter if you feel that perhaps your CV isn’t as great as it should be. This is a great introduction to tell your prospective employer about your goals and objectives, demonstrate your get up and go and desire to succeed in this chosen field. While your practical experience may be in fields that are not directly related to the position you are applying for, your cover letter can be used to tie your whole package together. Pick out transferable skills that previous roles have allowed you to develop.
Rather than saying “As you will see from my CV I have no experience in this field”, try a more positive “Although my experience to date is in a different field, this serves to highlight the depth of my transferable skills. During my time at X you will see that I was given responsibilities and tasks that allowed my to better develop my staff management skills / time management / computer skills.”
Remember, your cover letter is a taster for your CV and can make the difference between being passed over and being invited for an interview. Use a spell check and grammar check and if necessary, ask a third party to read the letter before you submit it along with your application.
It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your cover letter, allowing you to cut & paste it into your online applications and also for adding and amending new positions or skills to your wealth of experience.