How Important Is a Cover Letter?

May 5, 2014 3 mins read
How Important Is a Cover Letter?

When I was looking for work after graduation, I would always attach a cover letter to my CV before sending it out.

Regardless of whether it was a paper copy or an electronic version, a cover letter was a crucial part of a candidate’s application. Nowadays, most people just upload their CVs to job sites or job boards. When looking for work or selecting a format to write their personal CV, many professionals with significant experience neglect to spend the extra time composing a cover letter. In fact, a good cover letter can be a relatively effective means of knocking on and getting your foot in the door.

How can you make your cover letter stand out from the rest?

I have a few suggestions to share:

1. State your aim for applying straight from the start

How did you find out about the position? For which position are you applying? Why are you suitable for the position? What can you do for your future employer?

2. Highlight your personal qualities

Introduce the most salient and impressive facets of your experience and abilities. Make it clear why you’re more suitable for the position than other candidates. Be careful in your use of flowery or empty language. You’ll win the employer’s favor by expressing yourself in a straightforward and natural manner.

3. Aim your letter at a clear, discrete target

Some recent graduates will write a cover letter and attach it to the front of their CV, then make copies and scatter them across town. As far as hiring companies are concerned, this type of cover letter is meaningless. Only by clearly stating the identity of the company you wish to work for and including specific, relevant notes will your cover letter be effective.4. Sell yourself in a concise and appropriate manner

The purpose of the cover letter is to sell yourself, but you must do so in a savvy way. Overly boastful language will turn people off, but being too modest will make you sound incapable. You should display a confident and positive attitude, and the contents of your letter should be succinct and logical.

5. Proofread, then proofread again

Don’t make any typos or grammatical errors. After writing your letter, remember that you should read it through multiple times. The letter absolutely must not contain any mistakes—these will always leave an extremely negative impression in the mind of the reader.

6. Follow up

If you have the contact information of the employer, I recommend you give them a call or send them an email to make sure they’ve received your materials and to ask whether or not there is an opportunity to talk in person. If the hiring party is a headhunter or recruitment consultant, doing this is necessary and will give them a deeper understanding of your background and experience, making them more able to suggest suitable opportunities.

I hope you have found my cover letter top tips helpful and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require further advice.

Marlon Mai's picture
Marlon Mai
Managing Director, Greater China