By Nicholas Buck
It's is a busy time for executive search. Despite the recent COVID-19 events, senior appointments are continuing to be made. Many prospective appointees are aware of this job market busyness, which means we're fortunate right now to have a great deal of proactive contact from candidates. Fantastic!
This year, as I meet with many of you and review written applications, it's clear to me that CV standards are now consistently high. This is true across all sectors and for all roles, from governance, to chief executive, to general management. Somewhere in the last five years we have crossed a recruitment eschaton, and candidates are now reliably ensuring that CVs are compelling expressions of their experience.
As we enjoy this context of risen and rising written standards, I wanted to reinforce the value to candidates of a great cover letter.
Cover letters are sometimes viewed as a CV's garnish, an extra detail that summarises a CV's content and one's keenness to get the role in question. It can, however, be so much more. A good letter should focus on the following:
- Your reasons for interest in this role;
- Your reasons for interest in working within the hiring organisation; and
- A brief summary of your most relevant experience, and how that might translate to this role.
The key to these three points is non-transferability. That is, personalising the letter's content so that it speaks directly to your understanding of the appointment brief. Or, to put it more cynically, a good cover letter ought not to appear as if it could be used across several job applications. Preferred candidates for any role will always, always convey authenticity and precision thinking. A cover letter is your first opportunity to show these qualities.
Tailoring a cover letter has the added benefit of clarifying one's intentions. If it's difficult to write to the three points above, why is that? If it's really difficult, should that inform your decision to apply (or not)? If you feel that tailoring a letter is easy, to the point of 'writing itself', be encouraged the initial content of your application is probably in good shape.
For those candidates currently active in this buoyant job market, I wish you the very best in process. For those wishing to discuss further, do feel free to reach out.