As a professional CV writer and career coach, it seems that, with the advent of casual social media, people are becoming less literate in terms of formal communication. In the 'old days' (pre-2000) most people knew how to write and format a formal letter. However today, it seems this art has been lost for many. While this is generally not a problem in the day to day life of most people, how does this lack of skill impact candidates applying for positions?

Recruiter and author Tony Beshara found that 86 per cent of the 3,000 recruiters and hiring managers he surveyed, believed that the cover letter is not an important addition to the CV. This is particularly true when it comes to online applications, as usually there is only the opportunity to fill in a generic form, and attach a copy of your CV if you are lucky.

However what Beshara's study fails to point out is that 14% of people in the hiring seat feel cover letters are very important.

'Frame' to the CV

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This fact came home to me as a recruiter many years ago, when screening a whole bunch of CVs with a colleague. Quickly skim reading through each CV to find key data relevant to the role, (and ignoring any cover letters I came across), I was shocked to see my co-HR compatriot Michelle dutifully reading each cover letter in full. Asking her what she was doing, she explained to me that the cover letter to her was the most important part of a person's application. In it they can choose to communicate their relevancy to the role, highlight key achievements early on, and provide a 'frame' to view the CV through.

Another good friend, James Cozens, once advertised a mid-level role, and specifically asked for a cover letter to be included as part of the application. After going through the 95 applications he received, he found that 72% did not include an covering letter, 16% had poor quality covering letters with spelling mistakes and wrong information, with only 12% clearly articulating the applicant's career background and relevancy towards the position.

Job hunting is like golf

Just like a golf shot, each job application should be firstly sized up for your relevancy, secondly tailored to the role, and then finally packaged in a way that is relevant for the reader. Sadly most job applicants play the 'Happy Gilmore' way, by rushing it all, swinging wildly and hoping for the best. They pay no consideration to the needs of the reader, and assume the recruiter will understand their relevancy to the position by telepathy….

Take time to create a cover letter an employer actually wants to read. If you are lucky, you will strike one of the 14% and your application will go to the head of the pack!

Contact Tom O'Neil and the team at CV.CO.NZ for a free CV or LinkedIn assessment or to be your personal career coach.