Considering that searching and applying for jobs is a demanding and time-consuming process, it’s not surprising that many applicants hesitate to include a cover letter in their applications unless explicitly requested to do so by the employer.

However, while cover letters may no longer be a standard requirement, a well-written letter can be a very effective accompaniment to your résumé. It builds a bridge between you and the hiring manager, enticing them to go on to read your résumé. It shows that you know something about the job and the company, and that you are interested in working for them. If your résumé contains a substantial work history, a cover letter can also provide a useful high-level overview of the skills and experience most relevant to the job you’re applying for. In addition, it gives the reader an insight into your personality and you the opportunity to explain any gaps in your résumé or other special circumstances.

When to include a cover letter

While cover letters may be on the decline, it is critical to follow the instructions given in the job ad. Quite simply, if the employer or recruiter asks for a cover letter, you need to submit one. Not doing so will almost certainly result in your application being disregarded.

If the employer does not request a cover letter, the choice is yours. Weigh up the pros and cons: A well-written letter could help your application stand out from the crowd; on the other hand, a badly written letter could spoil your chances!

What to include in your cover letter

Now that you’ve decided to include a cover letter, the burning question is what it should say.

At the very least, you should mention:

  • The role you’re applying for
  • How you learned of the opportunity
  • How your skills and qualifications match the job requirements, highlighting those most relevant to the role
  • Keywords and phrases used in the job ad; many applications are scanned by software and do not progress if those keywords are not found
  • A call to action
  • Your contact details

Additional tips for writing effective cover letters:

  • Address the hiring manager by name, if you know it
  • Start with a strong opening statement about why you’d be a great fit for the role
  • Be concise and only include elements that are relevant to the employer
  • Include notable achievements in similar roles
  • Include some evidence that you have researched the employer and know a little about the company
  • Outline why you’re passionate about the job and industry
  • Include some personal details, if relevant – for example, mentioning that you recently completed a marathon shows that you have determination, self-discipline and endurance

Most importantly, your cover letter should be free of grammar and spelling errors. After checking and rechecking it yourself, ask someone else to proofread it for you.

The Proven Group

The Proven Group are award-winning résumé writers servicing the western suburbs of Melbourne, Ballarat and Geelong. Our professional writers will create a compelling, tailored cover letter for you that contains the right keywords and highlights your skills and experience, as well as your unique point of difference.

The Proven Group also provides professional résumé writing, interview coaching, personal profiling, career counselling and advice on how to address key selection criteria. Contact us today to find out how we can help you further your career.

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