Covering Letter Magic!
Published: 5th September 2018 | Author: Kate Dyer
Most candidates will at some point have the “do I need to write a covering letter for this?” dilemma. Especially if it’s the 20th job you’ve applied for that day and you just don’t have the energy, words or enthusiasm to get something half-decent across to a potential employer. Or perhaps you’re worried about it not being read, or saying the wrong thing.
Well, we’re here to guide you through the myths surrounding covering letters and to enlighten you about their magical powers!
Firstly, a covering letter has changed shape as technology and job-hunting has become a much more digital beast. Gone are the days of a perfectly laid out letter in a super-formal style. Instead, most applicants will find a section where they can leave a note to their prospective employer explaining why they feel they are right for the job. So, for the purposes of this we’ll keep referring to them as ‘covering letters’ but really it’s just a form of ‘note’ to go along with your CV, whether it be an email, a little text box on a job board or a section of an application form…you need to utilise that space and use it wisely.
What’s the point in writing a covering letter?
Well believe it or not, they can work wonders. It depends on each candidate and each role they are applying for. If you’re a Transport Administrator applying for another Transport Administrator job, the chances are your CV will do the talking for you so it might be less necessary to write a covering letter.
But for those people (of which there are many out there, you’re not alone!) who are trying to get into a new career, new industry or better your experience by applying for roles that you know you can do but may not have the best CV for…a covering letter can make a huge difference.
Oh, and…we do actually read them!
Should I write a covering letter for every job I apply for?
Well, it’s always a nice thing to do and it shows your willingness to go the extra mile. Some jobs will warrant a covering letter more than others, especially if it’s a role where you need to highlight your transferrable skills, or a job that you’re really excited about and want to get your enthusiasm across.
If you’re on the fence about submitting a covering letter or simply feel your CV explains everything then come up with something short and sweet that you can re-use and tweak for each role you apply for.
What should I write?
Ok well firstly, let’s get this clear…DO NOT start it with ‘Dear Sirs’! The worlds of business ownership, HR, Recruitment and Management are pretty evenly split between ‘Sir’s’ and ‘Madame’s’ these days but both terms sound quite antiquated so it’s safest to scrap that opener all together!
If you don’t know the name of the person you’re applying to, then stick with a safe ‘Good morning/afternoon’ and go from there… but the content of your covering letter really needs to come from you. It should be a personal insight into what made you apply for this job and why you think you’d be good at it, why you’d like to find out more, why you think your transferable skills fit or whatever it is you want to say. It’s also good place to get across enthusiasm too. If you’re excited by an opportunity, that’s lovely, so be brave and get that across instead of being a cool cucumber! We find that a lot of employers are looking for enthusiasm in prospective employees so communicate that properly if you are excited by the opportunity you’re applying for.
Don’t make it too long-winded though…two or three paragraphs at the most should be enough space to effectively convey your message.
The ‘magic’ part…
We have received a LOT of applications over the years, but the ones that really catch our eye are the ones with honest, well-thought out covering letters attached. We very recently received an application from somebody with no prior experience in the line of work they wanted to get into, yet their covering letter was so good, we really wanted to give them a chance. Their extra work paid off, and they secured an interview with our client which was valuable practice for them.
Had that candidate not listed why they were so keen to join that particular industry, and brilliantly highlighted their transferable skills and enthusiasm for the opportunity, they may not have been considered for the role. It goes to show that taking a few minutes to write out a couple of small paragraphs can really open up your chances of being considered for an opportunity.
So, next time you find a job that you’re really excited by, take the plunge and have a go at writing a covering letter as you never know…it might make all the difference!