A cover letter is one of the most important opportunities you will get to connect with an employer or HR manager. It is the one and only opportunity you are likely to have to grab their attention and make them want to meet you instead of many of the other CVs they may have piled up in front of them.
Many people state that employers don't really value cover letters, spouting statements like,
Cover letters, do they actually get read?
but we must all learn to remember that the HR manager is a person, not just a mailbox or an email address to send a job application to, after all they themselves at stages in their careers will have had to have applied for job vacancies much in the same way. For this reason many of them actually put a large amount of value on cover letters as a means of gaining a clear insight into the type of person you may be and your suitability to their requirements; miss this opportunity and they'll have moved on to the next candidate!
Most HR managers seem to agree that they do not value the generic cover letter template that most candidates stick to; one that reads similar to:
To Whom it may concern,
I am applying for the role of New Product Development Technologist within your food manufacturing facility………
I feel the skill set and the experience I have gained during my career to date is what you are looking for.
Please find attached my CV.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Mrs M Penny
Even as a Recruitment Consultant, specialising in the recruitment of high calibre Food Industry Professionals, I see countless cover letters constructed in this way; luckily I take the time to read all CVs I obtain to give every candidate an equal opportunity to excel, but I know that in other situations this would more than likely not be the case.
In today's intensely competitive job market first impressions count and so we must all up our game to stay ahead!
My advice for a cover letter that demands the attention of a HR manager / Employer, would be to include some of the following points:
State the Position You Are Apply For – Sounds obvious doesn't it, but you wouldn't believe how many applications Diverse Employment receives which say "I would like to apply for the role advertised", this may do the job in small companies, but for larger companies they may have more than one vacancy at any given time, adding unnecessary confusion to your application.
Address It To The HR manager / Employer - Addressing the recipient of the cover letter with the HR manager's / Employer's name keeps it personal, so do your best to obtain their name by what ever means necessary; give their receptionist a call if you have to.
Express An Interest In Their Company – Let the employer know why you picked their company, this will allow them to see that you have a genuine interest in working for them.
Tell Them Why They Should Chose You – As with our generic cover letter above, don't just write that you think you are suitable for the position, tell them why you think you're suitable.
Provide Evidence Of Your Key Strengths - Refer to experiences written on your CV. Aim to highlight your key strengths to reflect the requirements of the employer and position you are currently applying for.
I can honestly say as a recipient of many job applications that I like many other employers out there will value a cover letter more than the number of us that don’t, so always include one and take this valuable opportunity to make it count! If you would like to read more tips of writing cover letters, read our cover letter tips page.