You may be tempted to forego the cover letter entirely when applying for a new internship or job. After all, writing a cover letter is hard and eats up precious time. And who even bothers reading a cover letter in 2019, right? Wrong! We’re here to tell you that cover letters are still a crucial part of the application process.
Both recruiters and employers expect you to write cover letters. Also, some companies use resume-filtering software on all incoming applications. The extra keywords contained in your cover letter are likely to give your application an edge, especially over the ones unaccompanied by a letter.
Here are three of the main reasons why cover letters remain relevant even in 2019:
1. Employers expect them- 56% of employers expect applicants to write cover letters.
You don’t want to disappoint your new boss before you’ve even met them. In fact, you may never get the opportunity to meet them in the first place without a cover letter. The majority of hiring managers expect a cover letter from you. It’s how they get a feel for your personality and determine whether you’re a good fit for the role at hand.
Needless to say, a resume unaccompanied by a cover letter isn’t going to win you any brownie points with the employer. They may assume you’re too lazy to write a cover letter or that you aren’t serious about working for them. Employers value enthusiasm and hard work as opposed to laziness and apathy.
2. Cover letters help cement first impressions- Only 47% of job seekers write cover letters.
A whopping amount of job seekers fail to include cover letters with their resume. Simply including a cover letter gives you a slight advantage over these candidates. Moreover, writing an excellent cover letter will help you stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Your cover letter works to support your resume. You can use it to explain why you’d be an asset to the company, present the skills you’d bring to the table, and highlight your past achievements. If you make a good impression with your resume, the cover letter will help you cement it.
3. The cover letter may tip the scales in your favour- 90% of employers consider cover letters a valuable tool to assess candidates.
Imagine you’re a recruiter. You have to choose between two candidates. Both candidates have equally strong resumes. However, one candidate included a well-written cover letter along with their resume. The other wrote a generic one – or failed to write one entirely. Who would you give preference to?
The cover letter is often the first part of the application that the hiring manager sees. This is especially the case after the initial application screening process. As the pile of likely candidates shrinks, the cover letter assumes increasing importance in the eyes of the employer.
What you should know about cover letters in 2019
The way you apply to internships and jobs has changed. We’re moving into an era of online applications. Cover letters themselves are undergoing a metamorphosis along with the application process. Cover letters widely accepted a decade ago won’t always work today. The rules have changed.
Here’s what you need to know before writing a cover letter in 2019:
1. You don’t always have to submit a cover letter
Sometimes a job advertisement will explicitly ask you not to submit a cover letter. In cases like these, work on creating a perfect, tailored CV instead. You might want to create a brief summary section at the end for information that you’d normally include in the cover letter – for example, an explanation about why you’re applying to work in an industry which isn’t directly related to your degree, and how you can transfer your current skills to succeed there.
2. Your social media handles – especially LinkedIn – may become your cover letter.
Cover letters have traditionally been a way for employers to gauge the applicant’s trustworthiness, character, and skill set. Modern employers, however, prefer to personally look at a candidate’s social media profiles and general web presence to check their suitability for the role.
That’s why you need to spruce up your web presence, especially your LinkedIn profile.
3. If you’re an aspiring techie, your digital portfolio is your cover letter
Hiring practices are significantly different if you’re targeting a programming, UI/UX design, digital marketing, or a similar tech-related apprenticeship. Your online portfolio is the first thing that comes under the scanner in this case.
The majority of the aforementioned roles requires the applicant to be creative. There is no better way of showcasing creativity and design style than having a well-designed portfolio!
4. Generic cover letters will be tossed out
There’s nothing more annoying to veteran employers than a generic cover letter. What’s a generic cover letter? It could be a letter you copy-pasted from somewhere. Or it could be a lightly edited version of a letter you’ve already sent out to a dozen other companies.
Make sure you tailor your cover letter to the job at hand. Write a new one every time and don’t forget to include the company name!
5. Concise, well-written, and well-formatted letters are a must
You’re expected to write a letter, not an essay. Employers don’t like lengthy cover letters. The ideal cover letter length is three to four paragraphs, for an approximate total of 350 words. Address the cover letter to the hiring manager. Call the company to ask for the manager’s name and title if you don’t know.
Use a standard font and font size like Times New Roman (12pt) or Arial (10pt). Don’t make any spelling or grammatical errors. Use keywords from the job description and include your personal contact information. Finally, use formal language and be polite.
6. Answer three key questions with your cover letter
Don’t make your cover letter all style and no substance. Remember: the purpose of the cover letter is to introduce you to the employer and highlight your suitability for the role. As a rule of thumb, make sure your resume answers these three key questions:
- Why are you an excellent fit for your company?
- How do your qualifications and past achievements qualify you for the specific role?
- Why have you decided to apply for the role now?
You probably have a good idea of how important the cover letter is by now. To reiterate: your cover letter is your calling card. It highlights your strengths, character, and qualifications. An appealing, informative cover letter will score you many brownie points with the employer and maximize your chances of landing the open position.
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