what is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a written document submitted along with a CV outlining the job seeker’s credentials, competencies, and skill sets. Candidates can also use a cover letter to show their personalities and explain why they want to work for the organisation in a particular role.
how long should a cover letter be?
The typical length of a cover letter is three to four paragraphs. However, the length may vary based on the position a candidate is applying for. For instance, if someone is applying for a senior management position, they might write a longer cover letter outlining the achievements and experience that make them well-suited for the job. Entry-level cover letters should be as succinct as possible, showcasing the candidate’s eagerness to learn more and grow professionally.
types of cover letters.
Cover letters may be classified into three types depending on the purpose and goals of the application.
- Application cover letter: This is a traditional cover letter that job seekers send along with their CVs while applying for a specific job.
- Referral cover letter: This type of cover letter highlights the name and contact information of someone—a colleague, for instance—who recommended the applicant for an open position. In addition, a referral cover letter highlights the candidate’s skill set, competencies, and credentials.
- Prospecting cover letter: Also called a letter of interest, this type of cover letter is written by job seekers who want to work for a particular organisation. The main purpose of writing a prospecting cover letter is to showcase specific skills that may make the job seeker well-suited for the company while making a general inquiry about open positions.
what does a typical cover letter contain?
Cover letters provide an opportunity for job seekers to paint a clear picture of how they would be a valuable asset to the organisation.
- Experience: Employers seek candidates with relevant experience. If job seekers have relevant experience that fulfils the job requirements, it’s critical to include that information in the cover letter.
- Skills and competencies: Every job position demands certain skills. Candidates must make sure to highlight specific skills (both soft and technical) that match the job position.
- Suitability: Here, applicants can explain why they feel they are suitable for the job position, highlighting their past accomplishments.
Job seekers can also use the cover letter to highlight the specific information that didn’t quite fit into their CV. For instance, they can mention that they are drawn to the company by its noteworthy corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices or quality products.
common cover letter mistakes to look out for.
When you go through dozens of cover letters daily, you develop a pretty good eye for the ones that just don’t measure up. Nonetheless, here are a few of the most common mistakes job applicants make when submitting a cover letter along with their CV:
- Using the same cover letter for all job positions: This leads to a generic-sounding letter of little value that’s not very convincing to recruiters.
- Highlighting personal information that may not be relevant to the job position: Cover letters should be concise and engaging without superfluous information.
- Forgetting to proofread: Nothing spells “careless” like a cover letter with typos and grammatical errors.
how is a cover letter different from a CV?
A cover letter is different from a CV in a variety of ways, including the purpose, format, content, and tone of voice.
Let’s look at the differences between a cover letter and a CV:
be careful using cover letters.
We would advise recruiters to consider whether a cover letter is truly necessary in their application process. In today's fast-paced online recruitment world, adding a step that forces a candidate to pause their application and go prepare a letter will result in a significant increase in your application form abandonment rate.
Consider why you want a cover letter. Is it so you can tell if the candidate is genuinely interested in your position and not just spamming applications to every employer? If so, perhaps adding a simple question asking the candidate to "Explain in a few sentences what interests you about this role and why you think you are a good fit for it" will help.
This type of question will help you determine who is truly interested without requiring candidates to write a letter. It's also worth noting that the act of writing letters is somewhat archaic, and some younger candidates may be unfamiliar with the process. This is likely to discourage them from applying, and if they do write a letter and it is not in the proper format, you run the risk of rejecting them based on their letter writing skills, which are unlikely to be relevant to the role they will be performing!
streamline your recruitment process with hireful’s help.
hireful's ATS can support a variety of application processes, including additional questions and/or a request for a cover letter. Book a demo to learn more about how the hireful ATS can help you streamline your recruitment processes, hire suitable candidates, and save on recruitment costs.