Does your CV still need a cover letter in 2020?

When recruiters spend less and less time looking at CVs and you’re applying for multiple positions, it can be tempting to skip the cover letter to save everybody time.

So, in 2020, is a cover letter is still necessary?

In short. the answer is yes.

It could be the difference between someone reading your CV and putting it on the interview pile or deleting it before they even open it.

So, why should you make sure to include a cover letter with your CV in 2020? And how can you use a cover letter for job-seeking success?

Why do you still need a cover letter in 2020?

When recruiters receive hundreds of applications a day, there are some that they don’t even bother opening. Having a compelling cover letter will instantly attract the attention of a recruiter. Furthermore, when the cover letter is well-written, it will encourage recruiters to open your CV, making it more memorable and therefore more likely to make its way to the ‘yes’ pile.

In fact, studies show that 26% of recruiters still consider a cover letter as ‘very important’ with regards to their decision to hire. So, if you want to make sure your CV gets the attention it deserves, then a cover letter can be the gateway to ensuring a recruiter reads your CV.

As well as attracting attention, a cover letter can be a great way to explain critical aspects that may not be clear in the CV. For example, demonstrating why you’re the perfect fit for the organisation and how you have the solutions that the business requires.

The only time that a cover letter isn’t needed is when the job advert explicitly states that you shouldn’t submit a cover letter.

Don’t attach it separately

As mentioned above, the cover letter should be the compelling reason to open your CV. If the cover letter is an attachment itself, then recruiters are unlikely to bother opening it. They may not even notice it as an attachment. Instead, make sure you attach your CV and include your cover letter in the body of the email or message.

Remember, your cover letter is there to attract attention and make the recruiter take notice of your application. If the cover letter is hiding away, it will not serve its purpose.

Be personable yet professional

While your CV will document your skills and experience, it can be hard to bring your personality to life and differentiate your CV from others with similar skillsets. Your cover letter can help you to demonstrate your uniqueness and your personality.

However, it is important not to be too informal. While a warm and friendly tone will attract recruiters, being unprofessional and informal will mean your CV goes into the bin without being read.

Remain professional and polite while offering an insight into your character. This way, the recruiter has all the knowledge that they need, right at their fingertips.

Keep it brief

While recruiters spend an average of just six seconds looking at a CV, they’ll spend even less time on your cover letter if it looks like an essay. Your cover letter should be a quick sales pitch, encouraging recruiters to open your CV. If you delve into every detail of your CV in your cover letter, they won’t bother opening your CV at all.

Instead, keep your cover letter short, sharp and to the point, with a strong call to action to encourage recruiters to look at your CV.  Try to aim for a maximum of three paragraphs.

Highlight key reasons for hiring you

While your CV will explain your skills and what you’ve done for other organisations, it can be challenging to get across what you can do for the organisation that you are applying for. Your cover letter can be a fantastic way for you demonstrate how your skills and experience can benefit the business.

Your cover letter is the chance to show that you have the solutions the recruiters are looking for while ensuring that you demonstrate the aspects the job advert asks for. Make sure to utilise the keywords of the job advert in your cover letter so that recruiters can instantly pick out the primary skills they want to see.