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​Reviving the Cover Letter: Why It's Still Your Secret Weapon in Job Applications

​Reviving the Cover Letter: Why It's Still Your Secret Weapon in Job Applications

03 June 2024

Cover Letter

Are Cover Letters a thing of the past?


Cover letters are NOT obsolete! While opinions may differ, they remain a valuable tool for job seekers. They provide a unique opportunity for candidates to showcase their personality, enthusiasm, and specific qualifications for the role. Unlike CVs, which often follow a standard format and focus on listing skills and experiences, cover letters allow candidates to explain in their own words how their background and expertise align with the job requirements. A well-crafted cover letter can highlight a candidate’s communication skills, attention to detail, and genuine interest in the position and the company. This additional context can help recruiters better understand the candidate's motivations and potential fit within the team, ultimately leading to more informed hiring decisions and reducing the risk of a poor match.

At Leading Roles, we consistently request our candidates to include a cover letter and address the selection criteria. Addressing the criteria in a letter makes it easier for recruiters to quickly determine if they possess the necessary qualifications and have a clear understanding of the job requirements.


Why Cover Letters Matter: A Marketing Pitch for You

Think of the cover letter as your personalised marketing pitch. It’s your opportunity to demonstrate how you align with the job and the organisation. Even if you lack experience in a particular aspect of the role, use the cover letter to explain how your skills would benefit you in learning quickly or showcase any relevant transferrable skills. Don’t just address the job requirements; use the letter to showcase your personality. For example, if applying for a CEO position, discuss your management style. If applying to be an environmental health officer, talk about your community engagement style. The language you use in your letter can really highlight your personality.

Leading Roles look for personalised insights that go beyond the straightforward listing of skills and experience found in a CV. Specifically, we would look for personal motivation (why the candidate is interested), relevant examples (narratives that show the candidate’s past experiences), communications skills (ability to effectively communicate), and cultural fit.


Overcoming Common Pitfalls: Mistakes to Avoid

Writing an effective cover letter can be challenging. It’s sometimes tempting to reuse previous letters, and this is where mistakes are made. There are common pitfalls that can undermine their effectiveness, key mistakes to avoid include:

  • Generic Content: Using a generic template that lacks personalisation and fails to address the specific requirements of the job and company.

  • Grammatical Errors: Failing to proofread thoroughly for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes, which can detract from the professionalism of the letter.

  • Repetition of Resume: Simply restating information from the resume without adding any new insights or examples, which wastes the opportunity to provide additional context.

  • Lack of Research: Failing to research the company and industry, leading to generic statements that don’t demonstrate genuine interest or understanding.

  • Overly Long or Short: Writing cover letters that are either too lengthy or too brief and lacking substance, missing the opportunity to engage the reader effectively.

  • Ignoring Instructions: Disregarding any specific instructions provided in the job posting regarding the submission of cover letters, which reflects poorly on attention to detail and ability to follow directions.


Avoiding these common mistakes will help you craft cover letters that effectively showcase your qualifications and make a positive impression on recruiters.


Take Action! Write a cover letter that showcases YOU!