Cover letters are one of the best opportunities for you to differentiate yourself and in fact, a well written cover letter will make a big difference in whether you will be seriously considered for an interview and ultimately a job offer.
You know you are more than a few sentences or bullets in a resume! You should view a cover letter as an opportunity to show off the ‘the whole you!’ There are compelling stories attached to your past jobs that demonstrate your personality, your strengths and skills and how you have applied those traits to be successful in your career.
1.) Writing skills: Your ability to craft a well-written argument/narrative as to why you want the job and why you should be hired will demonstrate your writing skills, one of the most critical elements being considered in the hiring process.
2.) Your strengths and skills: While a resume is a chronology of places you’ve worked and bullets outlining accomplishments, your cover letter allows you to expand on how your strengths and your specific skills allowed you to succeed in your career.
3.) Personality: A cover letter allows you the opportunity to give your future employer a sense of your personality. Conveying to your next boss your commitment to your craft, your ability to work in a team environment and ‘humanizing’ yourself will spark an interest in wanting to meet you.
4.) Dedication: A cover letter shows the employer that you’ve taken the time to analyze the job posting and how your background is relevant to they job. It also is your opportunity to explain why you want the job and shows the employer that you’ve researched their company to demonstrate why you’d be a good fit.
Remember: Each cover letter needs to be personalized and specific to each job posting. Yes, you can copy and paste certain common elements, but each cover letter needs to be targeted towards the job and the company you are applying to. I know that this may seem time-consuming and a bit overwhelming, but it is a necessary job seeking skill that becomes easier as you do it more.
I recently asked hiring professionals their opinions about cover letters. Here’s what they said:
“As a hiring manager, if someone takes the time to write a cover letter they stand out. They will get an email response at the very least, & I’ll be looking for reasons to give them an interview. If the cover letter is well written, they’ll almost always get a phone interview.”
“Personalized cover letters moves the resume to the front of the line.”
“When hiring, I require a cover letter. Many times people get a lot of advice and support on crafting the resume. Since people I hire need to be good writers, the cover letter is one of the ways I can discern their writing ability. I also like to see how people approach linking their experience to the work for which I am hiring.”
“I was recently a hiring manager and leaned heavily on the cover letter. So many people have their resumes professionally made these days that the cover letter tends to be my clue into the actual person applying for the job. Do they follow directions? Did they do their research? Did they bother to spell check?”
Continued good luck in your job search!