So many roles are searched and applied for online these days that after we have completed the online form and uploaded our CV, how many of us write a covering note, and if we do, how much effort do we put into it?
If we put a lot of effort into a covering letter, will the recruiter even read it? Many don’t, so what is the point?
I always add a cover letter to my CV because I think it can help with landing an interview.
A few years ago, I applied for an internal role that would move me out of my PA role into a marketing and communications position. I wasn’t 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 communication and marketing experience (which wasn’t a huge amount). Still, 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 another candidate. I know the covering letter made a big difference from the feedback I received, 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 covering letters are still relevant.
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 voice, style and personality, which is hard to convey on a resume. You don’t have to stick to a chronological list of your skills to emphasise 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 of working at this particular company and why you think you would fit there. You can 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 weeklong 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 want that job?
Here is a template for a standard Executive Assistant role. Remember to tailor it to the job application!