Lately, when I talk to people who are in the job market, or read comments on various blogs across the internet, I keep hearing people say that they don't send cover letters because they don't think that they are necessary. Some people even went so far as to say that they think that cover letters are the equivalent to “brown-nosing”.
But, the even more interesting thing is that the constant feedback from hiring managers and recruiters is that the cover letter is the key to getting a feel for who the applicant is and how they will fit with the company. According to them, they look at the cover letter along with the resume.
Typically, they skim over the cover letter, then look over the resume. If the applicant's resume has the required experience and training to meet the job description, they re-read the cover letter to get an idea of who you are and why you think that you would be a good fit for the job. The cover letter is your chance to give your pitch to the person making the hiring decision. It is your time to make whatever points you think would make a difference in the decision making process. For example, if you really think that you would be great at a specific job, and you have many, but not all, of the qualifications they mentioned in the job posting, the cover letter is where you can address that. This lets the employer know that you did read their posting and gives you the opportunity to make your case.
Because the cover letter is your chance to make your pitch to an employer, you should be sure to write one specifically for each job you are apply for. Form letters are easy to spot and it gives the impression that you are just going down the list and applying for every job opening.
Some of the arguments against cover letters just don't make much sense. Someone said that writing individual cover letters is a waste of time and seems to be less productive than sending just a resume. They figured that in the amount of time it took to write and edit a cover letter, they could have applied to many more jobs thus increasing their applications per hour rate, and somehow lessening their chances at finding a job. And, while I can sort of understand the reasoning, it is an argument that just doesn't hold up. The idea of applying to as many jobs as possible and sending resumes to every job opening may have been a workable strategy back when the job market was in good shape and employers were desperate to find qualified applicants. These days, they have more applicants than openings and job seekers have to work a bit harder to stand out.
In this job market, it isn't the quantity that counts. Selecting a few openings that you know you are qualified for and sending in a cover letter telling the company what your experience is and why you would be an asset to their company, along with your resume is the best way to land an interview. It shows the employer that you are interested in working for them, not just interested in finding a place that will give you a paycheck.
Keep in mind that the application process is your first interaction with a company and it is their first impression of who you are as a person and as an employee. In fact, sending in your resume is probably the first task you will have to complete for the company. How you accomplish it will tell them a great deal about what sort of employee you are. Are you someone who looks for short cuts and just really wants any job that they can get, or are you someone who doesn't cut corners and does their research to find companies that are right for them and sends a personal letter to them along with a list of their qualifications? And which one of those people would you want to hire?
What do you think about cover letters? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.