Do You Still Need a Cover Letter in 2019?

By Andrew Fennell

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How we apply for roles is changing, with one-click applications and CVs being submitted through platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, a big question for 2019 is whether a cover letter is really needed?

Whilst the traditional application sent through the post with a cover letter enclosed might be a thing of the past that doesn’t mean an engaging introduction couldn’t boost your application.

Below are five ways you can produce an up-to-date version of the cover letter, helping your CV stand out.


You need to ensure your CV is opened

It’s essential to spend time creating a CV that is well structured and displays why you’re the right candidate for that industry. However, all that effort is lost if recruiters aren’t tempted to open your CV.

A cover letter can act like a blurb to a book, providing a succinct opening, covering the main points of your CV and drawing recruiters’ attention. Selling yourself and your most marketable skills.


Be personable

Recruiters receive hundreds of applications per job advertisement so tailoring your cover letter is key to getting noticed.

Match the content of your cover letter to the company you’re applying to, mentioning any keywords documented in the specification or any specific company knowledge you’ve acquired that demonstrates your enthusiasm for the role.

Research the company, reviewing the job advert, company website and social media feed to pinpoint details to include, looking to direct your application to a specific person.

Look for names within the job advert but if unavailable use LinkedIn to find relevant HR or recruitment employees.


Write in the body of your email

The world of recruitment and technology is changing and the need for a separate cover letter is no longer the only option. If you’re submitting your application via email, use this introductory message as your cover letter.

Giving an opening to your CV, summarising your experience and the reasons you’re looking to apply for roles within this sector.

Alternatively, if you’re submitting your application through a job board, use their message section as your cover letter instead of attaching a separate document.


Be brief

Your cover letter shouldn’t be a mirror image of your CV which just repeats the same information, keep it short and concise.

Get to the point by creating a cover letter that covers your reasons for applying and applicable experience within a word limit between 250 and 400 words.

Enough information to entice recruiters to open your CV without duplicating content or making recruiters switch off.  


Sell yourself

Your cover letter should be a selling point, engaging recruiters’ attention and making your core strengths a focal point.

Tailor this information to the industry you’re wishing to pursue making it clear to recruiters at first glance your suitability.

Be specific about any related accomplishments, using key statistics to verify those achievements.  For example, if you’re applying for sales roles, highlight the revenue you gained for a company or the percentage of cost reduction you supported in achieving.


Andrew Fennell is a former recruiter and founder of StandOut CV, a leading advice centre for CV writing and job search. Andrew contributes careers advice to a number of sites including The Guardian, Business Insider and CV Library.

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