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What is a cover letter and why are they important?
A cover letter accompanies your CV as part of a job application. It provides further detail on how your skill set aligns with the role, what you can bring to the team and why you want the position. Cover letters allow recruiters and hiring managers to develop a better understanding of your suitability for a position.
When your cover letter is being reviewed, this is often the point at which first impressions are made in the mind of an employer, making it an essential part of your application. In addition to this, employers often favour CVs that are accompanied by a cover letter and will in most cases specifically request one as a mandatory requirement to apply for their vacancies.
What is a CV cover letter?
A covering letter is a one-page document addressed to the interviewer or potential employer that includes your contact details, the role you are applying for and further detail surrounding the information in your CV. Cover letters should highlight your interest in the role and expand on your skills and experiences that make you best suited for the position.
Within the letter, you should align your qualifications, relevant skills and previous experience clearly to the job description to emphasise that you have done your research into the role and are keen to join the team.
A good covering letter will increase your chances of being invited for an interview. To ensure your cover letter is up to scratch, read our article on ‘How to write a cover letter: 10 things to remember’.
Writing a winning cover letter
During a recruitment process, recruiters and hiring managers may receive hundreds of CVs to review. The better applications will also include a cover letter. Your cover letter must reflect the unique capabilities that you possess, which position you as an ideal candidate for the job you are applying for.
The overall goal of a cover letter is to demonstrate your uniqueness as a candidate, one that can bring value to the position; and to show that you are literate, experienced and enthusiastic about it. A well-written cover letter is an opportunity to show the reader you encompass these key attributes, which is why it is important to invest the necessary time and effort into writing yours.
What do you have to offer as a professional and how could you positively affect the organisation if you were to be offered the role? Sell your key strengths confidently to grab the reader’s attention. This will increase the likelihood of progression through the selection process.
There’s nothing worse than a glaring spelling error on your cover letter. A mistake in your letter shows you not only lack attention to detail but also suggests you don’t care enough to take the time to proofread. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you check it over and have a friend do so as well before submitting. A fresh pair of eyes could go a long way in securing an interview.
A well-written cover letter can also showcase your ability to effectively communicate via written text. A thorough spelling and grammar check is an absolute must.
A unique candidate
Use your cover letter to display your unique combination of skills and experience that relate to the job selection criteria of the role. Provide examples that will demonstrate a clear link between your knowledge, experience and abilities, and the needs of the employer.
While soft skills, as well as academic skills, are critical for securing an interview, it’s also important to demonstrate your experience in relation to the job description. Be sure to include examples of relevant experience in your cover letter to highlight the value you would bring to the role and why you would be the best-suited candidate for the position.
A tailored, compelling cover letter shows you have taken the time to research the company and understand the employer’s needs and job requirements. It is an opportunity to express that you are enthusiastic about the role, keen to be part of the team and demonstrate the value you would add to the company.
A cover letter should bring your CV to life. By aligning your CV with the job spec for the role, you can highlight exactly why you should be hired for the position while expressing your keenness to become a part of the team.
If you are looking for a new job, be sure to tailor your cover letter to the role following our cover letter template.