Every now and again the cover letter is declared dead. Whether concluded in the results of a survey or predicted after the rise of a new trend in the world of applications, the cover letter’s demise is often discussed – and sometimes even called for.
However, old habits die hard. For all the advances in technology, emailing and online employee profiles, a covering letter remains an essential component of most job application processes, so be careful before writing it off entirely.

While the style, structure and even method of delivery may have evolved in recent years, there are still plenty of employers who expect to receive a cover letter – or at least a well-crafted covering email – alongside a CV. This is particularly true of smaller businesses, which often employ a more personalised selection process, forgoing the use of standardised application forms, for example.

Some employers may describe the submission of a covering letter as ‘optional’, while others might not ask for one at all. If you have the option to include one, do it; you might miss out on a valuable opportunity to sell yourself and stand out from the competition if you don’t.

A carefully-considered composition can draw attention to your key selling points while outlining your enthusiasm for the role. If nothing else it shows you’re serious enough to have taken time for your application and come up with a persuasive argument for why you should be hired.

That’s not to say the old ways are always the best, however. Recruitment consultants in particular bemoan the overuse of stuffy, lengthy and overly formal cover letters that reveal little about the candidate and their interest in the job. While this might have ticked the boxes circa 1975, in the 21st Century a killer cover letter should look to fulfil the following criteria:

Concise – keep it short – a single page is more than enough
Direct – clearly spell out your suitability and why you want the job, thinking about key words and phrases
Original – make sure the style reflects who you are rather than sticking too rigidly to standardised templates and syntax, but don’t go crazy
Personal – make sure to address the reader by name
Precise – employers value literacy and attention to detail; typos and grammatical errors are a definite turn-off

A cover letter may just seem like another hoop to jump through in your job search, but underestimate it at your peril. At the end of the day employers still want to hire human beings. Being able to give your application this personal touch should be to your advantage.


Reference: Recruiter; Inc; USA Today; Abintegro
24 May 2017