Are cover notes still important? Tips to write a brief cover note that will get you the job

Are cover notes still important? Tips to write a brief cover note that will get you the job

A quick Google search will show you that the existence of the cover letter or not is constantly put into question. Are cover notes still relevant? Do employers even care about them? In this article we explain why they are still relevant, althought at Movemeon we prefer to speak of an ‘elevated pitch, but how you can write an efficient and modern elevated pitch to secure your dream job. We also share some tips to write a perfect CV using consulting skills.

The importance of a cover note

Cover notes are sometimes considered optional. At Movemeon, we don’t think they are – but neither do we like the traditional cover note approach, that’s why we speak of elevated pitch rather.

Your elevated pitch is what separates you and your skills from other candidates with basically the same CV. It’s a chance for you to show and tell where you have delivered. For instance, if you have worked on an interim project with a major client, your elevated pitch gives you the space to flesh out your achievements, and why they are relevant for this application.

The cover note is the main way of separating out the strengths of two people’s candidacy – you can use your elevated pitch to show exactly why this experience makes you the best for the role.

It is important to remember that Movemeon is a network of candidates with excellent skills and experience. As one of our members, you have really strong professional and academic backgrounds. It’s also very likely that you have been through some form of consulting experience in your career – maybe you’re still working as a consultant as you read this. You belong to a great community of extremely skilled professionals on Movemeon, but this can also mean that your profile might be similar to other candidates’. The elevated pitch is the main way of separating out the strengths of two people’s candidacy – you can use your elevated pitch to show exactly why this experience makes you the best for the role.

How the Movemeon Client Success Team uses the elevated pitch

Cover notes help the Movemeon Client Success team to do two things. First of all, we can write a clear summary of your approach in your own words. If we only have a CV to look at, this is more difficult to do because we don’t have your experience, and don’t know how you would describe it and what else you would say about it. An elevated pitch really helps us to come with an initial shortlist of candidates to present to employers.

Second of all, your elevated pitch make it much easier for us to get you, as a candidate, into the interview process. Think of the elevated pitch as a sales crib sheet, or a selling aid to the client. If a candidate has gone the extra mile for us as a Client Success team to help themselves to really stand out, then it makes our job of presenting that candidate to an employer a lot easier.

What you should put in your elevated pitch

While your CV focuses on displaying your experience and skills, your cover note gives you the opportunity to explain why you are applying to this specific role and what motivates you to get this job as an individual. A CV can be a very limiting document because it is essentially a list of skills and achievements, so it can be difficult to build a bridge between this document and somebody’s personality. The experience that you’ve got is important and worth presenting in an elevated pitch but you need to choose what you include carefully to fit with the role’s requirements and with your personal goals – this is the best way to show your own personal motivation for a job.

A CV can be a very limiting document because it is essentially a list of skills and achievements, so it can be difficult to build a bridge between this document and somebody’s personality.

That being said, your elevated pitch is not about bringing your CV to life. Rather, it’s a way of bringing your specific experience vis-à-vis the job requirements to life. For example, if you’re applying to a senior manager-level role in a tech start-up, it’s a great idea to write about how you’ve got experience of delivering savings for a product company, for instance. Consulting is very impressive experience in and of itself, but it might not necessarily be particularly relevant for the position you’re applying for – focusing on a couple of missions in your elevated pitch can bring more relevance to your experience.

Most importantly, this exercise is about focusing your experience on what the company has asked for and keeping to the point so that you can communicate your motivation efficiently. If it helps, you can think of your elevated pitch as your own personal sales pitch. You need to make sure that you’re presenting yourself in the right way, but then also you’re doing it in a way that if you were the hiring manager for that company, you would want to see from others.

Some methodology points

Something that is important to remember is that your cover note is an answer to a question – why and how are you the best for this specific role in this particular company?

At Movemeon, the general tendency is to think that the best elevated pitches are the ones that are written in bullet points that still allow your personality to come through. We think that the presentation of the note has far less importance than the actual content. In that sense, the traditional cover letter is not necessarily the most relevant today, and all the usual formulas can come across as fluff you don’t need at all to secure the position.

It really doesn’t need to be a long document for it to be great.

In terms of length, there isn’t a guide – you should write however much, or however little, you need to represent yourself properly against the requirements of the job description. However, the best elevated pitches our Client Success team has seen were in the region of 150 to 200 words. It really doesn’t need to be a long document for it to be great. Writing more than that shows that you have put a lot of effort in your application, which is never a bad thing, but make sure that this effort is efficient – the content of the pitch needs to be presenting your strengths in the most relevant manner.

The most important advice that we can give is to always think of the reader as you write your elevated pitch. You need to present yourself in the best light possible, and ensure that your candidacy is very strong. As you write, take into account that you will be read by a hiring manager and the Movemeon Client Success team who will receive many more applications.

In summary, keep it concise, keep it to the point, keep it lively. And make sure that it’s really accurately answering the question. We tend to recommend going for a bullet point model, but there’s nothing wrong injecting a bit of flair into your writing. 

Mistakes to avoid

The first common mistake is to avoid classic copy paste errors. We’ve seen quite a few copy errors where people have mentioned the wrong company or forgot to remove their placeholders. This is the sort of thing that definitely needs to be avoided because it doesn’t look like a particular level of care has been taken over applying to a specific brand or job. Just make sure that the covering note shows that you’ve invested in yourself and invested in the brand that you’re potentially going to be working for.

In case of doubt, just focus on what the job wants and what you can bring to it and who you are.

A second common mistake is to not read what you’ve just written. It’s really good to make sure to keep it grammatically tidy and run spell check through it. Good proofreading is essential.

A third point would be mis-researching what you’re going to be writing. There’s been a few cases where we’ve seen people present addressing the wrong stakeholder, the wrong hiring manager, or the wrong company. The advantage of the Movemeon elevated pitch is that it’s a box that you fill, so it’s a very simple format which does not call for the traditional letter format. In case of doubt, just focus on what the job wants and what you can bring to it and who you are. You need to be absolutely sure of the facts you mention, and make sure that you’ve got a hundred percent confidence in that information.

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