What is a cover letter: How important is it in the job market?

with the CV Coach

A cover or motivational letter is a brief letter that the applicant writes accompanying the Curriculum Vitae (CV) or job application, it is an introduction and brief description of the applicant’s skills, willingness to join the company, and it is meant to sell the applicant to the prospective employer.

Motivational letters may be broken into two categories, the one prepared in response to a job advertisement, or a speculative cover letter, in which as the name suggests, the applicant inquires if there is any vacancy available within the company’s ranks.

When writing a cover letter, it is important to try and find out who the recruiting person of the company you are applying to is; and address him or her by name, this would inspire the person and stir the reader’s interest, as it creates a mutual contact.

After salutations, it is also vital to begin by indicating the position you are applying for, and how you come to know about the opportunity, be it a newspaper, a television, or radio advertisement, and how your qualifications and expertise are in line with goals of the company.

It is therefore critical to do a brief research of the company you are applying to. When responding to an advertisement, it is very helpful to read and understand the job description pretty well; this will help you to tailor made your cover letter in line with what is being sought.

The following paragraphs should answer back to the job description, know the key results areas, organisational culture of the company, and point out how your experiences, skills, initiatives from the previous jobs will help you achieve the needs of the company and deliver the desired results.

Since this is a brief note, just meant to accompany the application and to stir the interest of the reader, you need not to repeat all the stuff in the CV, and in ending the letter, tell the reader how you would appreciate and be ready to be called for a job interview. Thank the reader for his/ her time, how you would be glad to hear from them, and that you may make a follow up.

Cover letters should be short and precise.

In my next instalment on this topic, I will be looking more into the lay-out of cover letters, what to include, and what to avoid when preparing motivational letters.