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The importance of a cover letter in landing a job interview

Author: Jamie Millar

A rant from our communications manager

We’re hiring a new developer. We’ll be hiring more people over the coming 12 months, mostly in the client services team, some more developers, and maybe a marketer or two (if I’m lucky).

Right now, though, we’re looking for a front end developer, a role that works around fitting the back-end code of our new software into a nice-looking, functional, efficient and smooth user interface that our clients love using.

I tend to be involved in the wording and placement of job adverts and, as such, I see many of the responses we get. We stipulate very clearly in our job adverts that all applicants must provide a cover letter with their CV/resume. If they don’t provide a cover letter, we will not read the CV. We say this in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Why is it, then, that more than half of our applicants don’t provide a cover letter? More than a quarter don’t even provide a CV! This apathy is demoralising and has caused me to rant...

Now, if any recruiters are reading this, they’re likely jumping up and down about how small to medium businesses aren’t skilled in recruiting, or don’t have the resources internally, and should use a professional service provider. We recognise that and we work closely with a third party HR support agency that guides us on all things recruitment. We still like to handle the applications in-house, though, as cultural fit is the most important part of our recruitment process.


A good cover letter can open an interview room like a hot axe through cheese (Game of Thrones reference – ra!). Your CV may be slightly below the required level, but a good cover letter can engage a potential employer – pique their curiosity – enough to think you might be the person they want to invest in because you’re the best fit for their team and culture.

A good cover letter will respond to the advert’s individual points and requirements, will articulate a tone of voice, will reveal whether you have layers. In short, it’s the first opportunity to show your personality.

The individual personalities of employees are of immense importance to the overall reputation of a company. The personality of a company is made up of the personalities of its leaders and employees and is the internal image of a company. The human interactions external stakeholders have with an organisation contribute to the external image of a company (along with satisfaction in other service and product areas) – the external perception of who and what a company is. Combine internal personality and external image with the physical identity of a firm (logos, dress code, office, locations, etc.) and you have the three core components that make up corporate reputation.


Any organisation that takes its corporate reputation seriously wants to know that the people it brings into the interview room already sound like they’ll fit that criteria. And how will they know this? Because the candidate wrote a good cover letter (unless the company is using advanced techniques like pre-interview videos or recruitment agencies).

So in future, whether job seeking or job hiring, remember, the cover letter is the key to the interview room (in my opinion).

Oh, and one final point. No cover letter will save you if you call yourself a ninja (or Jedi, guru or rock star).

cover letter rant


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