Putting together a job application can be a time consuming process. If you’re determined to do it right, tweaking your CV for individual roles and including a cover letter, you might not be happy with the volume of applications you actually manage to send off.
So it’s fair to wonder: is a cover letter really necessary? Crafting a letter for each individual vacancy is probably the single most time-consuming part of an application, and the temptation to leave it out altogether is pretty strong for many jobseekers pressed for time.
Despite the time factor being a major obstacle in the job application process, we believe it’s well worth putting one together, even for online recruitment forms that don’t necessarily ask for them.
The first thing to note is that many applicants really don’t bother with cover letters any more, or perhaps send a very generic one. That means that simply by including one where the effort has clearly gone into it, you can right away make yourself stand out from the pack.
The cover letter is also a great opportunity to highlight the best or most relevant aspects of your CV. You don’t have to force a recruiter to dig through your work history to find out why you’re suited to the job – all they need to know is right there and easy to access. It’s a particularly useful tool for those with work experience less relevant to the role, or who have large gaps in their work history that need explaining.
It’s true that you could greatly increase the rate of applications by not bothering with the cover letter, but after all, it’s not just about the quantity of the applications but the quality.
Keep in mind however, that you don’t have to write every single letter from scratch – you can keep a template, or several templates, saved, and then go on to adapt them for specific roles.
Cover letters tend to follow a single structure anyway, so as long as it doesn’t have the feel of something copied and pasted, you can get a great letter out every time without expending too much time and effort.
Generally, you’ll want to dedicate a paragraph to explaining what it is about a particular organisation that makes you to want to work for them. You should also draw out skills and experience from the job description in question. Other than that however, many things will stay much the same throughout almost all of your applications: your introduction, signoff, and practicalities such as your notice period.
We’ll shortly be launching our jobseekers’ resource that will assist you in working through the process of writing the cover letter. As you get faster and better at putting yours together, you’ll hopefully be able to keep up the rate at which applications are going out the door while keeping the quality of your applications up. And at that rate, it won’t be long before you find your way to your dream job.