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Are cover letters still necessary?
We know our fast-paced, technology-driven world means anything can happen in an instant – this includes finding a new job.
Businesses and employers want the best talent here and now, which is why the requirement of a cover letter is becoming less common.
Here are quick tips to determine whether you should still include one with your job application.
- If the job listing requests one – Definitely follow through and provide a cover letter, otherwise you will not be considered for the next stage. By not including requested information, it also gives off the impression that you either couldn’t be bothered or you didn’t read the instructions.
- If the hiring manager or recruiter requests one – Sometimes a job listing will only ask for your CV. But as you progress to the next stage, which is to come in for an interview, the hiring manager or recruiter may ask for a cover letter.
- If you’re applying directly to a person – Other ways to find a new job may be to email someone directly – it’s worked for many professionals who were able to get in front of managers before they decide to hire, or convinced them to increase headcount. If this is you, generally the email is the cover letter (or you can write a compelling email introduction and refer to your attached cover letter).
- If you’ve been referred – As a formality, you would send your CV with a cover letter if you’ve been referred a new job or role. Why? It’s professional and your cover letter will provide additional information not in your CV.
- If there is no request for a cover letter but it could give you an edge – Your cover letter should not include the same information as your CV. Therefore, if there’s no requirement of a cover letter, providing a compelling one may just be the factor that wins someone over. Particularly when the job market is competitive, spending the additional time and effort to write a cover letter tailored to that role demonstrates further initiative and could help you stand out amongst candidates. (Note that if the hiring manager or recruiter stipulates that a cover letter is absolutely unnecessary, heed their instructions and refrain from submitting one.)
So what should you include in your cover letter?
It’s not uncommon for recruiters and employers to only just scan cover letters before shortlisting candidates. So while it’s important to keep yours short and sweet, it must also be impactful.
Make sure to do the following:
- Address the hiring manager by their name, if you know it
- Mention the role you’re applying for
- Include an engaging opening statement about why you’re the ideal candidate for the role
- Align your skills and experience to the job, and include related keywords and phrases
- Include relevant key successes you’ve had in previous roles
- Reinstate why you’re passionate about the job and industry
- Close with a call to action to meet
As a rule, keep your cover letter to one page and make sure the information you include is relevant to the specific job you’re applying for.
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