Did you send a cover letter with your last CV? Was it aligned to the role that you were applying for? In my humble opinion, the Cover letter, along with the handwritten calligraphy CV, have become recruitment artefacts. I hope by the end of this Blog you will understand why I feel so strongly about this.
My main reasons for not adding a cover letter to your CV are as follows:
The Recruitment Process has become automated.
Most companies, and recruitment agencies for that matter, will ask you to submit your CV online. These online systems do not allow you to upload a cover letter so it is a complete waste of your time to write one. A cover letter was far more suited to the pre-digital age of recruitment.
Is your Cover Letter aligned to the job that you are applying for?
This is a big bug bear of mine. I have received countless cover letters that start with Dear Jane/Peter/Lesego – none of which are my name! I find this offensive and am already ‘turned off’ the candidate as they haven’t taken the time to research who they are sending their CV to.
I have also had candidates telling me in their cover letters that they are the best C# Developer that they know; meanwhile they are applying for a role as an IT Business Analyst. This again shows that the candidate has not done their research on the role that they are applying for. Unfortunately, one cover letter does not fit all!
Who has time to read a Cover Letter these days?
Seriously, we live in such a fast paced environment, where people do not have time to sit and read through the countless cover letters that people send with their CVs. It’s almost physically impossible to do this and ultimately, what is the point of reading a cover letter if the applicant doesn’t have the necessary qualifications or skills for the role in the first place? I personally can vouch for most Recruiters, internal and external, who skip straight to the Education section of candidate’s CVs and then move onto their Work Histories to assess their experience.
Focus your precious time on your CV and LinkedIn Profile
We understand that your spare time is short too so rather focus your energies where they will have the greatest impact. Does your CV stand out from the rest of the pack? Is your CV in a professional format, with the same font used throughout with no spelling or grammatical errors? Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? Have you asked people for endorsements and added all of your courses, diplomas and degrees onto your profile? This is time better spent in my opinion.
Why do you insist on repeating yourself?
Most people just regurgitate the information in their CV onto their cover letter. What is the point of this? People are going to read your CV regardless so why do they need to read a cover letter?
The only time that I feel you should include a cover letter is when you are asked for one. Which in my experience (8 years in the recruitment industry); will be never. I have had to ask candidates to write a motivational letter but this is normally a fair way into the recruitment process and the client is trying to decide between their two tops candidates. Totally different scenario to starting with a motivational cover letter.
So in a nutshell, please stop sending us cover letters. Rather write a professional introduction letter in the body of the email. Never underestimate the impact that a well written, professional email can add to your application. First impressions count and if your email can stand out from the hundreds of others that HR professionals receive every day, you are almost guaranteed to get called for that elusive first interview.