The cover letter isn’t dead, it just needs a revamp, says Christine Wright of Hays recruitment
Once upon a time, writing a strong cover letter was essential to a successful job application. It summarised relevant experience and helped get your CV noticed by a recruiter or hiring manager.
But that’s all changed. Today’s recruiters and hiring managers glance over your cover letter and move quickly to your CV, where they focus on your skills and experience to determine your suitability to the role.
This is because we now live in a digital age, where people post their professional skills, experience and achievements online. A lengthy introductory cover letter gets little attention in comparison.
Does this mean the cover letter is dead? Not at all; it just needs a revamp.
In your introductory email or online application, I recommend that you write a succinct two or three paragraph summary — no more — of your unique selling points.
Start by referring to the role you are applying for and then — keeping in mind the need to be succinct and relevant — describe the skills and experience you possess that are most suited to the role.
Next, use one or two recent examples of successful outcomes to demonstrate your suitability. Again, make sure they are relevant to the role you are applying for.
That’s it. You don’t need to show flair or personality, say why you are attracted to the role, list your career ambitions or describe your background and hobbies. Instead, pique the reader’s interest, so that they want to read your CV to find out more. The best cover letters are a concise summary of your most relevant skills and qualifications, which introduces your CV.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as The new cover letter.