We are often asked does a cover letter matter and should I include one? The answer is YES!
A cover letter is like an introduction to a future employer – it’s your first chance to make a good impression, and outline who you are and why you’re suited to the job. A cover letter enables you to personalise your application and not make it look like a generic submission.
It’s an impersonal and dated greeting. Review the ad for the name of your contact or make a call to confirm who you should address the application to. If you can’t find the name to address the letter to, use a job title, such as ‘Dear hiring manager’ or ‘Dear recruitment manager’.
“In the context of a cover letter, ‘Dear’ sounds more professional than ‘Hi’, but avoid ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ – it’s a really outdated greeting.”
A cover letter is an opportunity to explain why you’re the best person for the job, so use confident language and powerful, active verbs that highlight your relevant skills and experience.
Phrases like I believe I’m a strong communicator’ can give the impression that you are the only one who thinks this,”.
It’s better to use stronger, active language and include examples to support your facts. For example: ‘I exceeded my budget by x per cent’, ‘I managed a team of four’, or ‘I created a new revenue stream that resulted in a $x profit increase’.
Clichés that lack clear meaning, ‘such as dynamic’ will not set you apart from other cover letters in the pile.
What does it really mean in the context of what you can bring to an organisation? Rather than ‘dynamic’, an example of when and how you have adapted to change. “Adaptability is a valuable skill, but don’t just say ‘I’m adaptable’ – how examples. Make sure you read the job ad carefully, identify the skills and relevant verbs, and include them in your cover letter along with how and why they are relevant to you.
Mentioning salary in your cover letter may limit your opportunity to negotiate, so don’t include it. Don’t mention your salary expectation, because it may not be aligned with the employer’s budget.
Avoid writing ‘salary negotiable’, because you may be selling yourself short. A cover letter is not the time to mention salary – save it for the job interview.
A great way to tell if you’re talking in TLA’s (Three Letter Acronyms) or not making your points clear is to have someone you trust outside of your sector review your cover letter and provide you with feedback.
All you really need to include in your cover letter is the job you want to fill, the reason you can do the job, and how you intend to do the job—with a little flair of personality. No need to write out your whole resume. No need to pen your personal manifesto. Keep it short and sweet for the hiring manager who’s reading through dozens of these.
Your cover letter is an opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. Give yourself the advantage by cutting out the clichés and generic phrases, and focus on showing examples of your skills and experience in action instead. That way, you’ll be giving the employer a much better insight into what makes you someone they should consider for the role.