What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a short letter that typically accompanies your CV or resume as part of your job application. It allows you to introduce yourself to a prospective employer and convince them to read your resume. It provides the perfect opportunity to create a strong and memorable first impression on the employer by explaining how you can use your relevant strengths, qualifications and accomplishments to succeed and excel in the job you’re applying for.
A cover letter is much more personal than a resume and allows you to provide insights into your individual personality in a way that your resume simply cannot do. It also allows you to demonstrate your desire, showcase your communication skills and emphasize why the job is a perfect match for your skills, background and experience. In addition, if there are inconsistencies in your resume such as a gap in your employment history or you are changing the focus of your career, you can address these inconsistencies in your cover letter.
A Cover Letter is a Strong Self-Marketing Tool
A cover letter is an important self-marketing tool. Its aim should be to generate excitement about what you can do for the company by showcasing the results you have accomplished for previous employers. This is why a strong and compelling cover letter that is specifically tailored to each role and employer you are applying to needs to be a core part of your job search strategy. Essentially, you need to write a different cover letter for every job you apply for.
Why a Cover Letter is Important
A well-crafted resume is important, but a compelling cover letter is just as important because it is the first thing a potential employer sees, making it one of the most critical components of your job application. A stellar cover letter that is tailored to the job and prospective employer shows that you have taken the time to research the company, and that you understand the employer’s needs and requirements.
On the flip side, if your cover letter is generic, boring or poorly written, this will do nothing to help you stand out from the hundreds of other applicants, and your résumé may not even be considered. It is therefore critically important to take the time to carefully craft a tailored and compelling cover letter that clearly highlights the value that you bring to the table.
One big mistake that most job seekers tend to make is assume that employers do not read cover letters so they don’t put much effort into them, choosing to focus all of their energy into perfecting their resume. Doing this could easily cost you a job. Yes, there are recruiters who may not read your cover letter. However, the fact of the matter is that few employers would seriously consider a job application that is not accompanied by a cover letter.
Generally, employers understand that writing a great cover letter is inconvenient and difficult, and this is one of the reasons they look for one in every job application. If you go through all of the trouble of writing a powerful and compelling cover letter, it demonstrates your work ethic and level of commitment to the job and employer.
What You Should Include in Your Cover Letter
The cover letter allows you to target the job and the employer in a very personal and specific fashion, leaving the resume to highlight your skills, background and experience as a part of the overall picture. You’ll only get one chance at applying for the role, so seize the opportunity to show why you are more qualified to deliver excellent results better than anybody else out there.
Every employer has a specific set of core competencies that they require to perform a particular job. You need to understand exactly what they are looking for so that you can tailor your background, skills and abilities to that role. Show what problems you are capable of solving and how you can apply this knowledge and expertise to your new job.
In essence, your cover letter is your opportunity to make a strong first impression. It will not get you the job, but crucially, it opens the door and keeps you in the game. In order to be effective, you need to write a new cover letter for each job (unless the job requirements are identical, in which case, you can sell yourself the same way.