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The importance of writing a cover letter to go with your CV

The importance of writing a cover letter to go with your CV

09 Apr 09:00 by Steve Twinley

Quality over quantity - the importance of a covering letter to stand out from the crowd

One of the job boards that we have used for over 10 years (I won’t say which one) has recently taken away the option for new applicants to write a paragraph / cover letter to accompany a job application. Perplexed, I gave our account manager a call and asked why it was that we were no longer receiving cover letters with CVs. I was told that the decision had been made to remove the feature because it was “putting people off applying”. 

I thought about this for a while, then tried to dig a bit deeper. Why would having the option of typing some supporting information put people off applying?

“Because our research shows that candidates want to apply to jobs as easily as possible”

Ok…

I can understand going onto Amazon and buying a new jacket with one click. I can understand logging onto your internet banking using a thumbprint. But applying to a job? Something that will change your life and impact on your family, career progression, social life and financial situation (ok, a jacket might do this too, but only if it was a very nice jacket)? Would you really want to apply flippantly to a new role without providing any supporting information?

Then it dawned on me. The account managers and salespeople who work within the job boards are targeted to maximise the number of applications. The more the better. They are rewarded for volume. Will they ever know who ends up getting the job in the end? Unlikely. 

When I post an advert, I typically receive over 100 CVs. Realistically, 10-15 of these might be appropriate for the role in question, leaving 85-90 which are, generally, awful – or at least wildly inappropriate. People apply from different parts of the country even though they won’t relocate; they apply to jobs that are far above (or far below) their experience level and pay grade; it is as if they are literally sitting there pressing “apply”, “apply”, “apply” to every single job they can see, without the slightest hint of thought. 

Here is a hint to anyone who might be looking for a new job. When you apply, ideally to a job that you have seen which really does look exciting and suitable for you, I would urge you as much as possible to write a personalised (not copy-and-paste) cover letter / e-mail / paragraph. Even if the job board no longer offers the facility to type or append one, find the recruiter’s e-mail address and send them a cover letter separately. The poor recruiter (me) who receives 100 applications will almost certainly prioritise your CV, because you have taken the time to explain why you have applied to this specific job and why it means so much to you. In this world of constant noise and single-clicking-jacket-buying, a little bit of extra thought and extra quality is what will get you noticed.