I updated my LinkedIn profile the other day, for no particular reason other than it was a bit dull. I then went on a mad CV updating, portfolio organising frenzy. In amongst all of my files and paperwork I discovered a handful of my old covering letters for various jobs I had applied for over the years (one was hand written – that is how old I am!)
I wondered how many of us still write covering letters when we apply for jobs? So many roles are searched and applied for online these days that after we have completed the online form and uploaded our CV I wonder how many of us write a covering note and if we do how much effort we put into it? If we do put a lot of effort into a covering letter will the recruiter even read it, I know that many don’t so what is the point?
I always add a cover letter to my CV because I do think it can help with your chances of landing an interview. I applied for an internal role a few years ago that would move me out of my PA role into a marketing and communications position. I wan’t really qualified at the time and applied thinking I didn’t have anything to lose and it might show my current manager that I wanted more creative tasks. I spent an age updating my CV to reflect all of the comms and marketing experience I had (which wasn’t a huge amount) but I spent even longer writing a covering letter that expressed my passion for the company, the role and why I felt I would be able to do the job. I did secure a first and a second interview before the job was offered to someone else. From the feedback I received I know the covering letter made a big difference and I certainly wouldn’t have got a second interview if I hadn’t put the effort in.
Here are a few other reasons why I think the covering letter is still important:
- A recruiter might not read the covering letter but then again they might, and it could make a big difference so why take the risk of missing out?
- You can write with your own voice, style and personality which is really hard to do on a CV. You don’t have to stick to a chronological list of your skills so you can really emphasis the achievements you have made over your career and which aspects fit in well with this job opportunity.
- You can tailor a covering letter, detailing the passion you have for your career, your excitement at working at this particular company and why you think you would fit there. You can actually show that you are a human being and not just a ‘candidate’.
- You can take each section of the job spec and demonstrate why you are the perfect person for the job. Do they want someone with events experience? If so, write about the week long event you organised for your team and why it was such a success. Do they want an excellent communicator? Detail why being able to communicate is so important as an assistant and give examples of how you achieve this.
- If you don’t include a cover letter it may be perceived as being lazy and that you’re not too fussed about getting the job. Again, is it worth taking the risk if you really want that job?
I have a few different templates for my covering letters, depending on the type of role I am applying for. I have attached my template for a standard Executive Assistant role, which I used for my previous role and did get the job. I hope you find it useful!