Why generic cover letters don’t work


A CV highlights your academic history, work experience and skills showing employers whether you are a suitable candidate to fill the advertised vacancy. Cover letters show character and the person behind the CV. Many people assume that first impressions are only made during interviews, but this is not the case. An organisation can form an opinion of you based on the quality of the cover letter you submit and the details you include. Even if you have a great CV, you will limit your chances of being invited for an interview if you don’t pay enough attention to the accompanying cover letter. For many recruiters, a cover letter is a chance to learn more about the person they might hire.


How to avoid a ‘one size fits all’ attitude

Not putting enough effort into a cover letter speaks volumes about your work ethic, this way of approaching a task is undesirable to many recruiters. This can make the decision to not interview you much simpler. Employers want hard-working, innovative staff who will go the extra mile. The first step to demonstrating your enthusiasm is researching the company and reading the job description.

How to show you really care about working for their company

Applying to multiple jobs is a long and tedious process, but do not let that stop you from making each job application unique. If there is something that you really like about a company, include that fact in your cover letter. Are you aligned with their mission statement, or are you impressed with their leadership strategy? Mention it! Any reference to specific details about an organisation, small or large, will show your willingness to keep up to date with relevant information.

There are two main reasons why the quality of a cover letter is so important:

1. It shows you have done research

If you do enough preparation, writing a great cover letter becomes much simpler. Researching the business by looking through their website, finding their aims and the projects they are currently working on is a great place to start. If you really want to stand out, you can take this one step further by searching for the corporation on a business news website. Even if you can’t include all of the background information in your cover letter, the additional insights will be useful in preparing you for an interview at a later date.

2.  A cover letter brings your work experience to life

If done correctly, you can link your previous work experience and skills to the requirements listed in the job description. A cover letter provides you with the opportunity to tell employers what you bring to the table that goes beyond the basics. Applying past experiences to the essential qualities the employer desires is a great way to highlight that you have read the job description. It also shows the hiring manager that your skills are transferrable.

Submitting a strong cover letter will increase your chances of success. A good cover letter displays your ability to do the job, but a great cover letter will help you stand out from the crowd by signifying your interest in their business.


Written by Destiny Bright


Further Reading on Surrey Pathfinder

Writing effective CVs & covering letters

How to add some sparkle to your cover letter