When providing career coaching, I am often asked how valuable cover letters are in the application process. I know what needs to go into a ‘good’ cover letter and how much time and effort that entails, so I always want to give an answer that will provide some value and guidance, as many believe the cover letter sits between them and their new role!
Firstly I need to say that my response to this question differs on the hat I am wearing i.e. that of an executive recruiter, a company hiring manager or a career coach. I don’t mean to cause confusion but some people in hiring positions see value in the cover letter whilst others simply don’t. As a candidate trying to secure a role, what do you do then?
When pushed for an answer I would say include a short cover letter and ensure it’s tailored to the needs of the person reading it. There is certain information you can include in a cover letter that recruiters find immensely valuable. When sending a cover letter to a company hiring manager or Human Resources Manager, there is information you can include to differentiate yourself from the rest of the applicants for the role. The standard ‘please find my resume for your consideration’ just doesn’t cut it anymore – sorry!
If you want to write a cover letter when you apply for roles, I have written an article on our website which details what information to include, how to present it, how to position your experience and provides a sample letter. You can download this for free, just pop to the website, it’s under the Resources section, then information bulletins. There is lots of other information there you may also find of interest.
P.S. Only about a third of agency recruiters ever read cover letters, so if you are labouring over a cover letter for a recruiter, don’t worry just ensure your CV sells your experience and skills effectively!