Some might say that cover letters are pointless and a thing of the past, but are they? I quite like to skim-read a well-thought out, concise cover letter. If it is put together correctly, it should quickly show that you are the ‘right’ person for the job and entice the reader to give your application the consideration it deserves.
You’re probably thinking, “you can get that (if the candidate is ‘right’) from the CV”. However, if the recruiter/hiring manager has, let’s say 100+ applications for a position, the CVs can start to look the same. A cover letter will help you stand out from the crowd. It is also particularly useful if you are applying for a technical role – highlighting the key competencies will go a long way.
Taking the time to put a few short paragraphs together also shows that you have thought about the role you are applying for. This isn’t just a willy-nilly application; you are genuinely interested in the position. Try not to write more than three paragraphs, it will only put the reader off if they are faced with an essay. You simply want to grab their attention.
Now, the above is only relevant if the cover letter is fit for purpose. A rambling cover letter with poor content can do more harm than good. Usually if I come across a poor cover letter, I won’t bother with the CV. What’s the point? It will probably continue in the same vein, or at least, this is what I would expect. These are the cover letters that give the rest a bad reputation.
Finally, it is always useful to have someone look over your cover letter before sending it off. They might suggest including something you haven’t thought of. Similarly, there might be something you can take out. Having someone proof read your work will also (hopefully) help to avoid any spelling or grammatical errors.
In summary, the cover letter gets a thumbs-up from me. If put together correctly, it can only assist your application. A good cover letter will introduce you; highlight your experience; demonstrate why you want the job, and are the best person for the position. Keep it short and sweet and you can’t go wrong.