Do you need a Cover Letter when applying for roles?

Illustration of cover letter being selected
If you are looking for the short answer and don’t want to read the rest of this blog, then the answer is NO.

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I have worked for too many organisations as a Recruitment Manager and over the past 13+ years I have been in recruitment, personally I have read less than 10 cover letters. In that time, I have also placed hundreds of people into jobs so in my professional opinion; they are not necessary.

In saying that there are still companies that ask for them (government or companies that have a recruitment process from the 90s), and when applying for roles via Applicant Tracking Systems there is always that section that asks you to attach a cover letter with an asterisk* to it.

So, if you do insist on writing a Cover Letter here is my top 8 tips on writing one:

Tip Number 1:

Do not pay someone to write a cover letter for you. They will use their own standard template and unless they consult with you or really understand your experience and intentions, then they will grab the info from your resume or LinkedIn and potentially not sell you in the way that represents you best. Better off investing in Virgin shares.

Tip Number 2:

Talk to someone involved in recruiting the role and find out if a cover letter is actually required and necessary. Could save you a lot of time.

Tip Number 3:

The structure should be like an essay which can be broken down into 3 key sections:

       ✔ 1st section is a quick introduction summary, highlighting key qualities and traits relevant to the role and a statement as to why you are suitable for the role.

       ✔ 2nd section is the body that addresses the key criteria from the job spec with a paragraph each including a relevant example to highlight that you fit these criteria.

       ✔ 3rd section is the conclusion and restating why you are suitable for the role and entice them to progress to a phone call.

Tip Number 4:

You cannot write a successful cover letter without knowing the key criteria of the role, a job spec or at least a job ad that highlights these points. Get one before tailoring your cover letter.

Tip Number 5:

Keep it to one page ideally. Assuming they read it in full, this is one document where if there is more than one page, there is a good chance they will skip it completely off the bat.

Tip Number 6:

Keep it straight to the point and simple. There is no need to try make things sound more impressive than they are, and less is more.

Tip Number 7:

Consider who your target audience is, it is the recruiter? the line manager? This is important as you need to ensure you sell yourself to the right audience to get to the next stage.

Tip Number 8:

Do not place so much importance on a cover letter to the point where you get additional stress, or it takes hours/days to write. Your resume is more critical and how you interview.

Looking for work especially in this current market is quite stressful and time consuming. So if you are going to put the time and effort into the process then focus more on your resume, how you present and conduct yourself in interviews and your mind set and ensuring you remain confident and positive.

Picture of Patrick Wong

Patrick Wong

Patrick has been recruiting for over 10 years, across Australia for various industries and companies ranging from start-ups to global enterprises.

He has identified the trends and changes within the recruitment industry, especially in current times and is looking to share these insights where possible to give candidates a heads up and any advantage possible.

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