“The resume focuses on you and the past. The cover letter focuses on the employer and the future. Tell the hiring professional what you can do to benefit the organization in the future.”
Not everyone writes a cover letter to attach to their CV application, but does this mean they are missing out?
Will writing a covering letter add value to my CV or will it put off an employer?
The covering letter debate has raged on for many years, and in a lot of cases it could come down to opinion rather than fact – so how do you finally put the matter to bed and decide upon what you should do?
If you’re unsure as to whether you should write a cover letter for you CV, here are a few tips to let you decide on the best course of action:
What’s the purpose of a cover letter?
A cover letter aims to directly address the hiring manager with a more personal correspondence. It will aim to explain how you came across the role, why you want the job, and why you are the right person for the employer. A cover letter should also go into more detail as to the skills, qualifications and experience you have that will be of benefit to them, pointing out how this is relevant to the role.
A cover letter can be a great way to give your application a more personal touch, and will allow you to expand upon the information on your CV. You shouldn’t however copy directly what you’ve stated in your CV, and instead you should look to either present new information or to expand upon your CV.
Will my employer expect to see a cover letter?
Not all employers expect or require a cover letter, and if it’s something that they deem to be of importance they will typically state this on the job advert. There are some employers that don’t care whether or not you attach one and in some cases may not even read it if they are having to shortlist so many applicants, but this doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t write one. Some employers will expect a cover letter to be attached even if they don’t have the time to read through them all!
If you are unsure as to whether or not you should write a cover letter (and if the job advert doesn’t give you any guidance), why not consider contacting the employer to find out? Speaking directly with the manager is not only a great way to find out how they feel about a cover letter, but it is also a great way to introduce yourself and leave a positive memorable impact on your chances of gaining an interview.
What kind of an impact can a cover letter have on my chances?
It’s hard to say exactly how effective attaching a cover letter to your CV will be, but our opinion is that as long as you write one that’s professional and deals with all the points from the job ad, then it will likely boost your chances rather than hinder. Unless an employer specifically states on the job advert that they do not want to see one (which is very rare), then there is certainly no harm in attaching a cover letter.
What you will never know before sending your application is how effective your cover letter will be. Some employers will not read it, some will just glance through it, and some will read it intently and see it as a huge positive. In most cases, because cover letters are so tailored, you will find that a cover letter will boost your chances of an interview when comparing it to other applicants that have not written one and hypothetically speaking are on the same footing as you – same skills, same experience, etc.
What would be very surprising to see is your CV rejected based on the fact that you decided to attach a cover letter. Imagine if you were the manager looking to hire for a position within your team and you received lots of CVs – some with cover letters, and some without. Would you really frown upon the CVs that had the letter attached? What would an employer’s motive be for seeing a covering letter as a negative?
Ultimately, if you write a bad covering letter than you are obviously going to decrease your chances immediately of gaining an interview as the letter is the first thing the hiring manager will read. If you do choose to write one then you better make sure it’s perfect, otherwise it would have been better not writing one at all!