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Why Cover Letters Matter More Than Ever in Today’s Job Market

Even for the most seasoned marketing or communications professional, the thought of writing a cover letter and updating your CV can be daunting. Candidates ask me daily how to write a great cover letter and best present their CV. With LinkedIn being an important part of applications and AI in play to scan and evaluate candidates, has anything changed? Is a cover letter still necessary? The answer is a resounding yes and here’s why.

Understanding the Role of LinkedIn and Cover Letters

What’s the Point When There’s LinkedIn? LinkedIn provides a hiring manager or recruiter a way to validate a candidate’s experience, recommendations from past colleagues or employers, understand your style and potentially see some of your work. However, it doesn’t offer true insight into why you’re suited to a specific role, why you’re interested in the position and what unique attributes you’ll bring that make you more compelling than the other applicants. This is where a well-crafted cover letter steps in, offering a narrative that no digital profile can.

Should You Use AI to Write Your Cover Letter? AI may give you a start and the confidence to get underway. However, a well-written cover letter needs to help you stand out from the crowd and AI doesn’t yet know you as well as you know yourself! In a potentially recessionary environment with increasing competition for roles, you need to stand out and a thoughtfully crafted cover letter can help with that.

The Vital Role of Cover Letters in a Competitive Market

Think of it as your personal introduction and opportunity to summarise – with flair – why you’re applying and why you’re the right person for the role. Your cover letter provides the opportunity for the hiring managers to get to know you in more depth – your successes, achievements, values, what motivates you and of course, your skills and experience. The objective of a cover letter is to ensure the employer or recruiter immediately sees you as a standout candidate. Use it to highlight the value you would bring by demonstrating your research on the company and by linking your relevant skills and experience to what the employer is seeking.

 “A well-crafted cover letter can be your key to getting noticed.”

Crafting a Compelling Cover Letter

Personalisation is Key
Personalise your cover letter. Don’t create a standard letter or use AI – it’s so obvious! While roles you’re applying for may have similar skill requirements, the companies won’t be the same. They want someone who shows they have carefully considered the opportunity, their fit for it and is authentically interested in the role. Do your research for each role and convey that in the content of your cover letter.

Be Concise but Impactful
How long should the letter be? No one has the time or desire to read a thesis on every applicant. Your cover letter should be no more than 4-5 paragraphs long, definitely no more than a page. Less is more, so keep it brief and share the relevant facts with a few supporting examples to provide evidence of what you’ve achieved.

Don’t Repeat Your CV and LinkedIn Content
Use your cover letter to vividly describe what it is about your competencies and experience that fit with what the company is looking for and therefore make you the perfect person for the role.

Let Your Personality Shine
You’re writing about you – so express that through your writing style. Write in the first person and be authentic. This is your story and chance to sell yourself, so make sure you put in the effort to make it fabulous!

Keep to the Facts
You can absolutely use descriptive language, but keep it real. Double check your work. As a marketer or comms professional, it’s critical for you to make sure your language, grammar and spelling are 100% accurate.

Preparing Your Cover Letter: A Step-by-Step Approach

1. Understand the Job Description: Read through the job or position description, noting the precise skills and competencies the employer is looking for. Relate some of these specific role requirements to your own skills and experience in your cover letter. Some recruiters will be using AI software, so keep that in mind with keyword choice. Most importantly, focus on aligning your skills to what the role and employer are seeking.

2. Research the Company: Yes, it’s definitely 101, but just a reminder to look at the organisation’s website to find out more about its culture and values, strategic objectives and who the executives and leaders are. Look at their social content and get a feel for their customer sentiment.

3. Get the Basics Right: Address the letter to the right person rather than ‘to whom it may concern’. An inspiring statement on why you’re applying will grab the reader’s attention and demonstrate you understand what they’re after.

4. Highlight Your Skills and Experience: Next, highlight your skills and experience, stating how well aligned they are to the role and most importantly, what you will bring to the position. Essentially, this is your ‘elevator pitch’ or opportunity to relate what makes your experience, achievements, values and ambitions the perfect fit for the role. Why do they need YOU above anyone else?

5. Provide Examples and Evidence: Include examples and evidence like a particular project or case study that demonstrates achievement and relevancy. Be factual so the reader will want to take your application further because you’ve painted them a picture of why you fit and why you’d be successful in the role. Be real too – if you don’t have one of the skills asked for, it’s ok to reference it. However, you can flip this and mention when you’ve successfully picked up new skills in other roles.

6. Reference Connections: If you have any connections with the organisation you are applying to, you can reference this in your letter.

7. Conclude with a Strong Closing: To conclude, mention that your CV is included and thank them for their time and opportunity to discuss the role further.

Why Cover Letters Are Your Job Search Superpower

And that’s it! Why a cover letter is so important – even in this day and age with technology constantly changing. A compelling cover letter is crucial, even in a digitally dominated world. It ensures that employers see you not just as another application, but as a standout candidate ready to bring value to their team.

If you’re looking for any further guidance and/or support with writing a compelling cover letter, crafting your CV, or preparing for interviews, get in touch with Lynley at lynley@communicators.net.nz

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