CAREERS’ panel of expert recruiters answers a reader’s question each week. Have a question? Email email@example.com
Would you still consider a job application that did not have a cover letter?
Yes, we would still consider a job application that does not have a cover letter, however it is not advisable to do so. A cover letter gives you an additional opportunity to impress a hiring manager or recruiter. While it is true that it is the information in your CV that carries the most weight – and it is your CV that will be passed onto a hiring organisation – a cover letter allows you to quickly draw the reader’s attention to the relevancy of your skills and the value you could bring to the employer. The trick is to keep your cover letter short and tailor it. Most recruiters will only spend a brief amount of time reading it, so focus on why you are genuinely interested in and suitable for the job you are applying for. Just remember that the reader is interested in concrete facts, not quirkiness or cliches. Finally, remember that you do not need to attach your cover letter as a separate document in your application – instead, a cover letter most commonly takes the form of a personalised note to add to an online application or the body of an email attaching your CV. If you are not sure how to proceed, you can download a free cover letter template from our website.
Yes, of course. We consider simply LinkedIn profiles too. An application alone won’t get you a job but it can be pivotal in getting an interview. Active jobseekers are most likely selling themselves short without one. In a very competitive job market, candidates need to make sure they are presenting their strongest claim possible. The cover letter is an opportunity to highlight any relevant transferable skills and experience, as well as motivation. Otherwise, candidates run the risk of being perceived as simply applying for any job and being opportunistic, compared with their competition.
Views on whether an application is complete without a cover letter vary significantly. While I would still consider a resume-only application, I know a number of people, including employers, who wouldn’t. Even if your application is still considered, not sending a cover letter risks making a poor first impression. Applying with a tailored and bespoke cover letter that demonstrates your skills, your reasons for applying and your knowledge of the employer is a powerful tool. It could make the difference between making the shortlist and being offered an interview or falling at the first hurdle and finding yourself with a rejection.
Head of Organisational Psychology Consulting,
Stillwell Management Consultants
Yes, all job applications are given equal attention and review, however, I would strongly encourage applicants to write a cover letter as this action alone suggests that the person is genuinely interested in the specific role and organisation and communicates a level of proactivity and motivation. The letter also enables you to demonstrate your comprehension (in addressing the selection criteria), composition and communication skills, draw attention to your key strengths, explain any gaps or other ambiguous aspects of your CV and show some of your personal qualities.
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