How to Write a Cover Letter?

Thursday, November 6th, 2008 - cover letter


Karen asks: I am wondering how best to write a Cover Letter for Banking/ Management Consulting jobs. I am hold a bachelor’s degree from a UK business school and am looking for jobs in these fields. Most will ask for a cover letter to join their graduate programs however I always dread writing them. I hear that sometimes they are rarely looked at; can those of you in the recruitment business comment on that? My previous Careers Service (as I have already graduated) gives the usual generic advice like “expand on your skills highlighted in your CV.” I think I have a great CV, a good degree from a great UK business school and feel that perhaps it is my cover letters that is letting me down. Would you please give your comments and advice? Thank You!

In answer:
The simple answer is, if you don’t include a Cover Letter in your application, you will be rejected – fact. Most research suggests that if you don’t include a Cover Letter, then your chances of gaining a post even where it is not specifically asked for are around eight times less than those applicants who do include one.

As a recruiter, let me step you through how the process works in most recruiting and HR organisations that handle job applications. Most application correspondence will be handled initially by a junior member of staff, who will have been given a brief to reject any candidate against certain criteria. What are these? Simply, answering the job advert in a way in which the core skills and experiences are shown in the application. This member of staff is there to (a) learn the job, and (b) find reasons to reject your application as not relevant – they are saving time for the senior person, who then only has to review the relevant applications. This first stage process will remove around two thirds of applicants, who will only avoid the rejection letter should the senior staff member find there are just not enough applications.

So, the need for the Cover Letter is to make sure that you get past the first stage process and into the senior persons hands; and then to get them to call you – no more, no less. You hence don’t restate you CV/Resume in your Cover Letter, but engage with the reader to show you have the relevant skills and experiences, and have applied them in real projects with actual referenced results.

You can read more about Cover Letters on my blog How To Write A Cover Letter – honestly, the skills of how to write a great Cover Letter are quickly learnt in less than 30minutes.

If you are still full of dread after reading the website, then just drop me a message and I will happily help you out – I love writing Cover Letters, they are so much fun!

Good Luck!

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