To cover or not to cover

Have you been thinking about applying for a new role and wondered ‘Do I need to send a cover letter these days?’

Like many of life’s great questions the answer is ‘maybe’, ‘sometimes’, ‘depends’…

Many of you, like me, with enough years under the waistline, will remember the pre-email days when, fresh out of school, Tafe or Uni, you’d sit surrounded by printed copies of your resumé, written references, paperclips, stamps and business size envelopes thoughtfully addressing your applications ‘to whom it may concern’ or worse 'dear sir/madam'.

In recent years there have been both dramatic changes and subtle shifts in the way you can apply for a new role and in the presentation options open to you.

It is a safe bet there will be more changes to come but there should always be a place for courtesy and convention. You might respond ‘Yeah, but I never hear back from them anyway, so why bother?’ This can sadly be a valid and justifiable feeling. But I always come back to the thought that, if you are serious about applying for a role, it is worth making the effort and demonstrating the right way to do things in the hope that this time it will be rewarded.

The most dramatic and obvious change in how we apply for new roles these days is the postie doesn’t get a look in. Job sites have come and gone with Seek the most prominent, then there's employer career pages and recruitment company websites creating a no stamps, no paper cuts option for all.

With the advent of online job boards, there has been a flurry of activity resulting in mass applications sent to recruiters and employers at times without due care. Just hit ‘apply’ - don’t worry about a cover letter, send a standard, generic, one size fits all resumé and move onto the next job ad in the hope that by sheer weight of numbers a job offer will miraculously appear.

A reality check has been felt by those who use this method. Many advertisers are now clearly stipulating that applicants are required to attach a cover letter to be considered. Reading between the lines, this is not just any cover letter they are after: it is one that addresses the employer’s requirements, outlines your enthusiasm, suitability and availability and importantly provides relevant career highlights, thereby encouraging them to explore your resumé.

So, in the interests of making it easier to decide, ask yourself these questions. If the answer is ‘yes’ to any or all of them you’ll know how to proceed.

·         Does the recruiter or employer request a cover letter?

·         Do I really value the opportunity they have?

·         Am I prepared to take the time to write a role-specific cover letter?

·         Would I like to increase my chances of gaining an interview?

·         Is this my dream job?

Of course, if you answer 'yes' but you need help, we are here.