Covering Letters – don’t miss this crucial step when recruiting

Ange Connor

Requesting candidates to submit a covering letter along with their resume when applying for your next vacancy is one crucial step in the application process that you don’t want to skip. It’s easy to get caught up and focus on the resume however the covering letter is worth its weight in gold and will help you pick the best of the best from your pool of applicants. No matter what job I’m recruiting for I will always request people submit a covering letter along with their resume, here’s why:

Can they follow instructions?

You’d be surprised how many applicants won’t submit a covering letter even when you specifically spell it out as part of the requirement to apply. If they can’t pay attention to the detail and follow the instructions at this stage of the process how are they going to follow instructions once they are working for you?

Are they prepared to make the effort?

These days anyone can shoot off a standard resume via email and apply for a job in a matter of seconds. Preparing a covering letter, specific to the job, requires time and effort. If an applicant is prepared to take the time and effort to write a covering letter as requested they’ve already caught my attention. It demonstrates they are genuinely interested in the job.

It gives insight

You can learn a lot more about an applicant from their covering letter like why are they are applying, what interested them in the vacancy, why they want to work for the company and potential culture fit. All valuable info that I want to start getting a feel for as early on in the recruitment process as possible.

What are their written communication skills like?

A covering letter is the perfect way to asses an applicants’ written communication skills. Even with technology and spell check it’s interesting to assess the applicants’ written communication skills – their language, spelling, grammar, sentence structure, ability to address the key points of the job. Yes you can assess some of that from their resume but a covering letter will give you greater insight.

Do they have good attention to detail?

The way they present their covering letter is a great indicator of their attention to detail. Have they taken the time and effort to format their covering letter properly, is it well laid out, have they addressed it to the right person and the right company, have they referenced the right job. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve received a covering letter that is addressed to someone else, has the company name of a completely different company and/or states that they are applying for a job I’m not recruiting for.

Creates an opportunity to stand out from the crowd

A covering letter is the applicants’ opportunity to let their creativeness shine through. The information they provide in a covering letter is their opportunity to really sell themselves and highlight why they deserve an interview. They can emphasise their strengths and suitability for the role, share an element of who they are, what they stand for and are passionate about. Applicants can seize this opportunity to connect with the reader and the company.

The value of a covering letter can’t be underestimated and if you have been inundated with applications, it can be a quick and efficient way to weed out those who haven’t followed the instructions or taken the time to demonstrate their genuine interest. When combined with a resume, a covering letter should give you clarity about progressing an application to the next stage of the recruitment process. If you are pushed for time, investing a few extra minutes to review a covering letter can save you a lot of wasted time with unsuccessful phone screens and interviews.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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