Are cover letters still relevant and how to write them?

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Writing a good cover letter takes time and requires research about the company and the job itself. This piece of personal writing has been part of the application documents for many years and without it you probably got rejected in the past.

But in this time of “war for talent” many companies change their point of view. They realize that people do not want to invest so much time in a cover letter for a job application if they can apply without it somewhere else.

We are also at a point where many HR professionals do not see the value of it anymore. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Many cover letters are a copy-paste work
  • People tend to send the same letter for different positions where only the company name is exchanged (or sometimes not, which is the worst scenario).
  • When students are applying for their first job/internship/apprenticeship, it is a common practice that cover letters are written by their parents or somebody else rather than the applicant. This makes the cover letter worthless.

This is why many big companies have already changed their approach and do not require cover letter.  

Nevertheless, there are still plenty of organizations where you will need it. Well written cover letter can also help you to stand-out from the crowd. This article will give you a quick overview what a cover letter should contain and what should be avoided.

Contact information

When your cover letter fulfills its mission and convince the person who is reading it, that you are suitable for the position, this person should be able to quickly find all your contact details without the need of searching through other papers. Therefore, you should include following personal information in the letter:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Details about the company and the position

Company name: You should name the company so that it is obvious that you invested time in the cover letter rather than copy paste it from another application.

Name of the position: If you are applying for one job in this company, you can explicitly name the position in the letter. In case you are applying for several positions in the same company and you are using same cover letter for all of them, then naming the positions is not necessary (upload different versions where only the job title would be different would not make sense).

Company projects and activities: if you know of some projects or activities that you would work on in the new job, you can mention them and tell how you could provide additional value to the team.

Your motivation

This is what the cover letter is all about. Showing what interests you have and why you are motivated towards whatever you want to do.

Values

Tell what is most important to you in your private life and most important in your professional life. Based on what values do you perform your job on an everyday basis? Here you can really tell who you are and what kind of person you are. You can also write about your values and how they interact with the new job and the values of the company (if you know about them).

Motivation

Show what motivates you in your professional life and why do you get out of bed every day to go to work (and do not write because of the money 😉

This is your opportunity to tell the hiring manager about what drives you, why you choose this professional field, why you want to improve and learn more. You can also show what made you so interested in this specific field and what convinced you to be so enthusiastic about it.

Show the recruiter and the hiring manager that you are passionate for the topic more than everyone else. Even in cases when you have less experience than expected, the motivation to learn and your drive towards a topic can sometimes convince as well.

How about standard quotes?

Of course, you also have to include formal quotes like:” I am looking forward to hearing from you”, “It would be great to talk to you in a personal conversation”, “and if you should have any questions, feel free to contact me”. Or choose something similar.

Important tip: Your cover letter should not exceed 1 page

What should be avoided?

Writing a cover letter is not a rocket science. Make sure that you are not copying your entire CV and writing it as text in the cover letter because the hiring manager will not get additional information out of it. If people read your cover letter, and the only information they find is repetition of your CV in a text form, they will not be amused.

In the cover letter you should write about what motivates you. It gives you the opportunity to provide more information about yourself to the hiring manager and convince him or her that you are good match for the job.

Is it worth writing a cover letter?

Many people will probably not read your cover letter but there are still those to whom it is really important. It will not harm to have a cover letter, even if the company does not request one. If the position for which you are applying is important for you and you are willing to invest a little extra time for writing a good cover letter, then go ahead and do it. It may help you to distinguish yourself from other candidates with similar qualification and be invited to an interview where you will have the chance to prove that it is worth hiring you.