The cover letter is by far one of the most underrated items in the world of job hunting. If we were to guess, the trend of dismissing cover letters as optional or even obsolete started around about when Google wrote, “We think your work speaks for itself, so there’s no need to write a cover letter” on their job application forms. However, we believe a cover letter is a must-have in a great job application, provided there is a place to add one. So, here are 4 reasons why you need to include a cover letter when you apply for jobs.
Stand out from your competitors
A job vacancy is similar to a race with a single winner at the end of it. Which means, your goal as a job seeker is to keep hitting the cutoff point at each recruitment stage. The chances are, by the time the applicant pool is narrowed down to the top 5-10 candidates, their experience and qualifications are very similar across the board. Moreover, hiring managers will agree that after a while most CVs will simply blend in with the rest. This is when a good cover letter can set you apart from your competitors. Ideally, it will tell your story from the company’s perspective in a short, engaging and relevant way. Just like that you’ve given the recruiter a reason to pick you from a pool of similar candidates.
Highlight your motivation
It’s a common misconception that qualification is the only thing that matters to land a job. On the contrary, motivation is equally important. Think about it for a second. If you were hiring someone to do a job, would you hire a world-class expert who doesn’t really care about the work or the company? Or would you hire someone who’s qualified and really interested to learn more, meet targets and help grow your business? Therefore, the place where you can show why you are the best candidate for a specific job at a specific company is the cover letter. Remember, the more customization you do the better.
Offer your answer to their problem
Embedded in every job position is the problem or problems a company is trying to solve. You can find them by digging a little deeper into the responsibilities mentioned in the job advert. Moreover, you can reflect upon the challenges you’ve encountered before when performing similar tasks. Now, you can use the cover letter to identify these problems and offer the solution, which of course is ‘you’. Perhaps don’t say that outright, but rather elaborate on what you will do and how you will do it. As a result, the recruiter will get an inkling that you’re not just another follower, but rather a self-driven problem solver.
Showcase your interest in the company
Most job applications resemble a school essay on ‘Me, Myself and I’. However, the reality is in today’s job market hiring managers have very little time to indulge in your monologue. Rather, they quickly want to get to the bottom of why you want to work in this company and sector. Do you share the same values as they do? Are you likely to disrupt everything they’ve built so far? In which case will it be the good kind of disruption that fuels innovation? Or will it burn and crash everything and everyone? How well will you fit into your team? Are you the person who’s going to take the company to the next level? Do you care about making a positive change or is this just means to an end? Through a cover letter, you can answer all these questions, convincing your potential employer that you are the candidate they’ve been looking for.
Next time you come across a little box that says ‘Insert cover letter/motivational statement here (Optional)’ in a job application, ignore the optional part. Remember, your story is your biggest selling point. Are you ready to tell it?
Here is a great video from the tech recruiters we work closely with, sharing their take on the cover letter. If next, you are looking to create the ultimate CV here is an article to get you started. Keep an eye out on our blog for more posts on how you can shine on paper and in person, to land your dream job.