Are you still wondering if you should include a cover letter with your application? Well, if I haven’t convinced you yet, I am sure this post will provide you with the push you need to start writing cover letters for every job you apply for. I’m passionate about this topic, so if you are ready for some #realtalk, strap yourself in!
When you submit a job application, your primary objective is to sell yourself, your skills, knowledge and experience to a potential employer. You can do this through your resume, but as I’ve said, time and time again, your resume should be a maximum of two to three pages. Your resume should be designed to give an overview of your work experience and achievements. It may also talk about your skills. But given that you likely have a large amount of information to squeeze into a short amount of space, a resume alone just won’t cut it.
The point here is that if you are given the opportunity to include a cover letter along with your resume, why wouldn’t you? It really is the perfect opportunity to pitch yourself directly to the position you’re applying for. And if you don’t include a cover letter, it’s nothing but a missed opportunity. If you were having friends over for dinner and you wanted to make a good impression, would you serve a steak on its own? Or would you include a nice salad or some vegetables to round out the dish? Your cover letter is the same. It’s a brilliant way to make a good impression, whilst supplementing the information you provide in your resume. Use it!
You can go into more detail about your specific experiences in a cover letter. There is also a greater opportunity to tailor your pitch to the position you are applying for. By doing this, you are showing an employer that you have taken the time to understand what their position is and what they are looking for. It also shows that you’ve given some strong consideration as to whether you are suitable for their role and that you are prepared to put the work in to convince them of this.
One thing I see a lot of in recruitment, is people flicking their resumes to every job that pops up. Now, you can do this with a cover letter too - and I have seen it done. But it isn’t a good approach. By customising your cover letter to directly respond to an advertisement, you are also proving to potential employers that you are interested in their specific role, with their particular organisation, and that you aren’t just a desperate resume flicker.
As I’ve mentioned, your cover letter is a great vehicle for taking snippets from your resume and expanding on them mindfully. Perhaps you have mentioned in your resume that you managed a business’ finances. When you include a cover letter, you can provide more detail about what that actually looked like; what were the challenges and how did you overcome them? How does this piece of experience directly relate to the role you are applying for?
One thing that savvy employers look for when recruiting, is evidence of past behaviour. After all, the best predictor of future behaviour, is past behaviour. By including examples in your cover letter of things you have achieved, you are demonstrating to an employer that you are capable. You have proven experience and you aren’t just applying for the role because you think you can fulfil the duties. You know you can; because you have done it before.
Stop! Don’t hit send on that job application without attaching your cover letter!
You may already know that I am not a huge fan of including an objective section in your resume. I really feel that in most cases, it is a waste of space. Particularly if your primary objective is to just get the role you’re applying for. The problem with an objective in a resume, is that it also tends to focus more on what you are looking for in an employer, rather than what you have to offer.
When you include a cover letter though, you have a little more opportunity to talk about your passion and interests, as long as you keep in mind that overall, your cover letter should still focus on what you bring to the job. If you have a change in circumstances, like you are moving interstate or overseas, you are returning to work after parental leave or a career break or you are looking for a job straight out of school, you can use your cover letter as a means to communicate this to potential employers. Tell your story. Why are you interested in the role? What was it about this particular role that made you apply?
Most roles, particularly in corporate or office environments, require some level of written communication skill. Your cover letter is a great way to demonstrate this. I know, you have mentioned written communication in the list of skills on your resume, but remember what I said about demonstrating, rather than just stating?
Writing a resume requires a certain level of written communication skills. But it probably isn’t the type of document you would be preparing on a regular basis for your employer. Letter-writing on the other hand, is far more common, and by including a cover letter in your application, you are demonstrating that you have what it takes to craft a compelling letter, tailored to your target audience.
Any chance you get in the job search process to bust out your personality; you should take it. I am not suggesting that you go overboard, but having a personality that aligns with the culture of your dream employer is a positive, and something that most employers will be looking for.
This tip is not always relevant, but when you are tailoring your cover letter to suit a job advertisement, consider the language you are using. Ideally, you want to almost mirror the style of the advertisement, with your own personal flair. I’ve seen lots of job advertisements that have a casual style. They're practically begging for the right candidate to apply with a kick-ass response. If you see an advertisement like this, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. Let your personality shine through and show them why you would be a good match for their organisation.
Naturally, not all job advertisements have this laid-back nature, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to keep your personality under lock and key when you prepare your cover letter. You still want to keep the language in the original job advertisement in mind, but if it is in your character to include a little edge or humour to your writing, feel free to test it out. Word of warning though. If you are thinking about inserting some of your wit and charm into a cover letter, get one of your friends to check it before you send it. Best to make sure it isn’t pushing the boundaries too far, and that the comments translate well.
So, what do you think? Are you going to include a cover letter with every application from now on? If you need a little help putting your story down on paper, I’m your girl. You can get in touch with me here.