With hiring managers ranking cover letters low in terms of importance, job seekers increasingly wonder if cover letters are really necessary anymore. The truth is that a cover letter is still one of the best tools for introducing yourself to the hiring manager and a great place to sell yourself to the company. Here are four ways to use a cover letter to bring your resume to the top of the pile.
1. Introduce Yourself to the Hiring Manager
A cover letter gives you space to tell the hiring manager a bit about who you are. Don't repeat things from your resume. Instead, let the reader see you as a person. Share a short anecdote about a past job or school experience, or add information about a hobby or volunteer work. Make sure to tie the information into your qualifications for the position. Use your cover letter to move your job search into a more personal realm to show how you are different from the other applicants.
2. Enhance Your Resume
Use your cover letter to explain parts of your resume that are less than ideal for the position. If you are switching fields, explain how your past experience prepares you for the new area. Explain long absences from work, abnormalities in your educational background and past job experiences that do not translate well to a resume. It is important to keep your cover letter short so only touch on a point or two. If there is nothing to explain, share the details of an accomplishment listed on your resume. Telling a story about a success pulls the hiring manager in and helps him to get to know you better.
3. Connect Yourself to the Position
Tell specifically how hiring you will benefit the company. Share your passion for the job. Work in information about the company to subtly let them know you have done your research. Directly match your education, skills and experience to the requirements of the job. This is doubly valuable if it is not obvious from your resume how qualified you are. If you live in another area, share information about your wish to relocate. Companies may not extend an interview offer if they do not think you are serious about the position.
4. Provide a Strong Closing
Resumes are open ended. A cover letter gives you the opportunity to extend your hand by directly requesting that the manager contact you. Let the hiring manager know the best way to reach you, and state how you plan on following up. Then make sure that you do follow up as stated.
A cover letter is still a valuable part of the job search process. Make your letter stand out to catch the attention of a hiring manager who is just skimming through a pile of applicants. Craft a quality, professional cover letter that shares your personality and shows your interest and dedication to pull the reader in and keep him reading to the end.
Photo courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net