How important is your cover letter?
In general cover letters are very important. However, the type of role and the application method can determine how important it is.
Recruitment agency applications
Many recruitment consultancies advertise on behalf of employers and then sift through applicants CVs to find candidates they feel are relevant.
At this point they would contact potential applicants and discuss the role, and how an individual may be suitable, in more depth. Often, a cover letter is not relevant at this point unless told otherwise.
If this is the case then advert bullet-point some key facts that support your application as a cover letter. At this stage it does not need to be formal as consultants will be ‘scanning’ for relevant applicants. The bulleted information will help a recruiter spot you amongst all the other CVs.
Once the recruitment agency has made contact with you, they will discuss the role in further detail as mentioned above. At this stage they may then ask you to put together a cover letter to strengthen your chances of getting an interview with a client.
If you are applying directly to an employer then it is a good idea to write a formal cover letter or covering email to send with your application.
This is because clients like to see a candidates reasons for being relevant to the role in the candidates own words. It is easy for recruitment agencies to ‘sell’ a candidate to the client, but that's their job. You need to be able to sell yourself and your cover letter could make all the difference.
Another reason for a cover letter is the fact that you can’t always get relevant reasons for application into just a CV. Whilst a CV simply lists all your relevant skills and experience, a cover letter allows you to explain these in more detail and outline the reasons why this combination. Effectively, a cover letter is your opportunity to influence the employers’ thoughts.
Need help writing your own cover letter? Read our 'How to write a strong cover letter' page.