The mysterious cover letter is so much more than a formality. It is shocking how many applicants simply e-mail potential employers their experience and qualifications, and maybe a template form letter with a few relevant changes. If you really want to stand out, a high-quality cover letter is your key to opening that door.
One of the main reasons to write a good cover letter is to sell yourself to the company. Your resume tells a very cold, rigid story about your professional experience. Usually that is not enough to get a hiring manager or recruiter to call you in for an interview. The attached cover letter gives you the opportunity to put yourself into words. You have a chance to tell the company or organization exactly what you can bring to the table and how hiring you directly benefits the company.
Another reason why the cover letter is so important is because many potential employers won't even look at the resume without one. If you want employers to delve into your past work experiences and qualifications, you have to entice them with your cover letter. You can reference that internship you did a few years back and talk about how that experience is relevant currently. Simply reading a list of past jobs and schooling gives virtually no insight about you to the person who determines your professional fate.
Another crucial reason for writing a custom cover letter is that it shows that you care. In today's digital world, anyone can copy and paste a form letter, plug in personal information and send it along. Recruiters and hiring managers realize this, so a stiff, generic cover letter really just makes you another name without a face. Sending a cover letter that is obviously written – not copied and pasted – is proof that this is not just one application out of countless others being sent out. Employers want committed team members, not people who are just trying to land whatever job picks them up first.
Finally, your cover letter lets your personality bleed into the mix. Although professionalism is essential, you must also remember that the person reading your letter is looking for someone who meshes well with other employees. You have a chance to learn about the company and get a feel for their dynamic. Your cover letter allows you to make it clear that you are the perfect candidate. For example, if you are applying to write for a comedic website, let your funny side shine through a bit. For corporate positions, you can show your professionalism and competency.
Your cover letter should never be viewed as a pointless chore. It is an opportunity to get your foot in the door that you must take advantage of. Use it to sell your professional experience, your qualifications, your commitment and your personality.
Photo courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net