As tempting as it may be to send your resume to dozens of companies at once with no accompanying cover letter, several compelling reasons exist not to. "The resume focuses on you and the past. The cover letter focuses on the employer and the future," says Joyce Lain Kennedy, author of Cover Letter for Dummies. Your cover letter supports your overall job application in many ways and persuades hiring managers to call you.
A Personal Touch
A cover letter allows you to get a lot more personal than your resume ever will. While the resume provides a structured rundown of your work experience and skills, it doesn't really speak to the employer. A cover letter lets you introduce yourself to the hiring manager in your own words while emphasizing why you're a great fit for the position. It brings a human light to your application, helping you make a good first impression with your passion, enthusiasm and writing skills. Make the most of this benefit by mentioning something specific about the company or position, explaining why you've chosen this industry or telling a story that highlights one of your proudest accomplishments.
The Extra Mile
Putting together a cover letter specific to the company and position, especially when the job posting didn't necessarily request it, shows hiring managers that you take initiative and are willing to go that extra mile. Additionally, a well-written and keyword-optimized cover letter demonstrates strong communication and research abilities — two skills many companies look for in a candidate.
Stand Out From the Crowd
With hundreds of job seekers vying for the same positions, the job market is incredibly competitive. You should use every tool in your arsenal to set yourself apart from the pack, and writing a cover letter is one way to do that. Write a letter, and you automatically rise above the candidates who didn't; write a great letter, and you increase your chances of impressing the hiring manager significantly. The hiring manager should get a good sense of your personality just from reading your cover letter. To set yourself apart even more, use fresh, original and simple language that avoids canned, generic text.
Explain Your Resume
A cover letter is important for any candidate, but if you have an unusual or unconventional work history, it is crucial. It offers you a chance to explain gaps in your work history, short-term jobs, volunteer experience or any other experience that doesn't fit neatly into your resume.
Your cover letter comprises an essential part of your job application. Writing a different cover letter for every position you apply for may seem tedious, but the results often prove worth it. Take the time to put together a well-written, succinct and compelling letter to make the best first impression and greatly improve your chances of a callback.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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