In this article, I will be answering some of your latest questions on cover letters. Please feel free to post additional questions you may have in the Comments box at the end of the post.
Q: I have been working in banking for a couple of years and would like to transition into PR/Advertising. Is Cover Letter and the CV style and format going to be different for these industries?
A: As you will be transitioning to a new role in a new industry, your cover letter should ideally focus on the skills you have gained during your two years in the banking sector and how those particular skills can be useful and transferable for a career in advertising/PR. I would also mention your education and perhaps any courses you may have taken on marketing, PR, strategy, product development etc.
I would also suggest to think through carefully why you are thinking of undertaking this transition as it needs to come through clearly and logically in the opening statements for your cover letter.
I would say that in general the CV format doesn’t have to be completely different for different industries. You can still create your CV in chronological order for the PR/ advertising sectors – a lot of managers do not care about the actual layout, but more about what responsibilities you held, what education and the grades you have obtained and the motivation to work in this new industry.
Q: How should a cover letter start to ‘hook’ employers to want to find out more?
A: I would say that one of the most important ‘hooks’ for a potential employer on your cover letter is whether you know a person (or better a number of people) within your target company. In other words, name dropping (manager or director level ideally) is still very much alive.
Q: Should the cover letter be in the text of an email, if you’re applying that way, or as a separate word document?
A: I would strongly recommend a separate document unless you know the recruiter and they have personally asked you to email the cover letter in the body of an email itself.
Q: What common mistakes do people make with cover letters? Is there anything that people do that immediately makes you discount them?
A: – Incorrect grammar, not using spell check.
– A clearly copy/- pasted letter with no reasoning as to why this person is applying for this particular role in this particular company.
– Using ‘To whom it may concern’ or variations on this at the beginning of the letter (rather than finding the name of the relevant person)
– Not providing full contact details
– Not using the whole page or running into two pages
Q: Do you see the covering letter/CV dying out any time soon and, if so, what is replacing it?
A: I don’t see it disappearing any time soon as it is one of the two traditional documents required for a job application. However, in many cases, it is substituted by a direct conversation with a prospective employer. Networking in other words. When one networks and gets a job through a personal recommendation, then often no cover letter is necessary. A summary section on the LinkedIn profile can serve as a certain form of abridged cover letter.