Do Cover Letters Really Matter?

The process used to apply for jobs has changed significantly over the years. A far cry from hand delivered CVs and the odd phone call, job applications can now be submitted at the click of a finger.

With the growing increase of digitalisation, cover letters are becoming less common than ever; most job applications now consist of a CV and a few lines demonstrating your suitability for the role.

OA investigates the cover letter’s purpose and how much worth it adds to a job application. The question is, are they really that important? Do they still have value or are they just a waste of time and effort?

Transitioning from the military can often mean that you come equipped with a military jargon packed CV. Potential employers may choose to cast aside anything that adds to the time consuming process of hiring, so if your skills do not translate coherently, an added cover letter serving to back up and explain your abilities can go a long way.

Alistair Singleton, Partner at Hanover Fox highlights just how unfamiliar the skills and expertise gained in the military can be to hiring managers that may not have a good enough grasp of the military world. Thus, “a kind hand to help uncover the mysteries of a military CV should generally help rather than hinder”, he says.
Don’t be fooled by some job sites’ suggestion of including a generic couple of words that can be applied to each application. Though this may offer a quick and easy fix for submitting an application, it’s always a good idea to ensure that you tailor your writing to each role. Hiring managers will instantly pick up on a ‘cut and paste’ cover letter, so demonstrating that you’ve read the job specification thoroughly and possess the skills to match it, will undoubtedly go in your favour.

Anna Henderson, Senior HR Advisor at The Household of The Prince of Wales says, “A cover letter offers you a platform to distinguish yourself from other candidates and explain details that may be lacking on your CV.”
If you’ve already decided on providing a cover letter, you should make sure to keep it short and to the point. Avoiding flowery language and the use of overly long sentences should prevent the recruiter from losing attention. Your aim should be to hook the reader by explaining why you want the job, why you feel you are the perfect fit and why you are right for the business. “Your CV is a statement of your past experience but your covering letter is all about your fit for the future”, says John Andrews, Recruitment Consultant at Heyman Woodworth.

Try having a conversation with somebody who can provide some helpful insight on the importance of cover letters if you’re still unsure. Getting in touch with a head-hunter or consultant can often prove beneficial if ever in doubt about an application process; and if the job is advertised directly through the employer, you could always make contact with the company’s HR manager or administrator to better understand the application requirements. Sometimes a cover letter won’t be necessary, so this motive can help to steer you in the right direction and save you some time if this is the case.

For more tips and advice on writing cover letters and the role they play, book a consultation with one of our experts –

www.officersassociation.org.uk/employment/the-employment-team/