Cover letters tend to create highly divergent views as to their usefulness. Here at CV Writers we carried out some research that showed whilst one in three recruiters would read a CV regardless of a cover letter, another one in three would only read a CV if a cover letter impressed them first. As a job seeker, it is therefore best not to take chances and always include a cover letter with your CV.
1. Keep it brief
Three to four paragraphs is perfect. If your letter is drifting towards two or more pages then it is becoming too long. Just like a CV, your letter will be scan read so make it accessible and easy to read. There is no need to provide lots and lots of detail. It is worth remembering the primary purpose of the CV and letter are about getting an interview, not getting the job.
2. What to include in your cover letter
The most important message to take from this article is that your letter is all about meeting the requirements of the person specification. So, if you have a generic letter you are firing out with every application the chances are this approach will not work. A cover letter is not all about you, it is all about how you can demonstrate suitability for a particular role.
The substance for your letter will also depend on the type of job you are applying for. A cover letter for a marketing manager will look very different from one for a copywriter or database manager. The more senior you are the more strategic and team leadership qualities need to be evidenced. Even jobs with exactly the same title can have massively varying requirements, so answer the key requirements of the person specification and you are much more likely to engage the reader.
3. Provide examples as evidence
It is very easy to say you can do something, it is quite another to demonstrate it. The best way of showing you can do something is by using examples to illustrate it. Use relevant examples of achievements and activities to provide concrete proof of your ability. It pays to be anecdotal in a cover letter as it helps the reader to visualise your expertise.
4. Should I include personal circumstances?
Generally, it is best to only include information in a cover letter that acts positively with your application. You are protected by law against racial, sexual, disability or age related discrimination so there is no need to mention any of this information. Other personal circumstances such as caring for a family member are probably best left to interview. Perceived issues often tend to melt away once you are in front of someone in person.
5. What is the call to action?
Every marketer knows the importance of a call to action. With a cover letter it is about getting the reader to engage with your CV. So finish the letter by positively and politely pointing them in that direction.
If you would like help with your CV, cover letter or LinkedIn profile, CV Writers can help through a variety of CV services.