The importance of a good cover letter

astorrsastorrs Member Posts: 3,139 ■■■■■■□□□□
The importance of a good cover letter
by Scott Dickie

Most job seekers by now understand the necessity of a resume while conducting a job search. However, many do not realize how important a cover letter is to the process. How important is it? Many human resources professionals say the cover letter can have as much, if not more impact on whether or not a candidate is granted a job interview.

A cover letter is a job candidate’s opening to present his best marketing and sales pitch. Sure, a resume is vital and outlines your qualifications. A cover letter, though, is your chance to sell yourself on the most vital characteristics desired by the company and the position you seek. In essence, it is your statement as to why you must be concerned as a possible best match for the position.

The problem for many is that if a job posting does not specifically state that a cover letter is requested, they do not send one. This is a big mistake. In fact, at times, this is a test or prescreening step by the employer. There are many stories of people who have been told they either received or did not receive an interview based on their submission, or lack thereof, a cover letter.

Even people who do submit cover letters when requested by employers often fail to understand the seriousness of this personal sales tool. Some throw together a quick, meaningless paragraph. This not only does not make use of the cover letter opportunity, but often leaves the resume without review.

An effective cover letter must answer key questions that an employer asks him or herself before considering inviting you for a job interview. These include:

* Why are you interested in the position?
* Why are you a good fit for the position?
* Why is this position right for you?
* Why is now a good time for you to move into this position?



  • astorrsastorrs Member Posts: 3,139 ■■■■■■□□□□
    A response from Louise Fletcher (Blue Sky Resumes):

    Yes, you do need a cover letter
    You should read the whole post for Scott's reasoning on why cover letters matter and what they should contain. I'll just add that in my experience, not everyone reads cover letters. When I was in HR, I never bothered with them. BUT, my boss wouldn't even read a resume until he had read the cover letter. He was looking to see whether the candidates had bothered to personalize their application by addressing the open position and why they were a good fit. This was so important to him that he wouldn't read resumes if a cover letter wasn't attached.

    You can never know which recipient will be like me, and ignore your cover letter, and which will be like my boss and refuse to consider you without one. So write the best letter you possibly can for every single application - and always customize each one.

  • KasorKasor Member Posts: 929 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Resume show what you had, but cover letter is showing what you actually do and did.

    A well written cover letter will score high on your selction for job interview.
    Kill All Suffer T "o" ReBorn
  • vistalavistavistalavista Member Posts: 78 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I got my current job because of my "well written cover letter" I've been told.
  • AldurAldur Member Posts: 1,460
    As stupid as this is going to make me sound, I didn't realize that a cover letter was even necessary. I've gotten plenty of interviews without one, but I wonder how many I missed because I didn't have one. Sure makes you think.
    "Bribe is such an ugly word. I prefer extortion. The X makes it sound cool."

  • astorrsastorrs Member Posts: 3,139 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Aldur wrote:
    As stupid as this is going to make me sound, I didn't realize that a cover letter was even necessary. I've gotten plenty of interviews without one, but I wonder how many I missed because I didn't have one. Sure makes you think.
    Well it isn't to some HR reps (as Louise said in the second post I made) but to others they may not even bother without one. Something to think about definitely.
  • astorrsastorrs Member Posts: 3,139 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Another interesting tidbit about using your cover letter or summary statement to address what could be perceived as negatives against you on your resume.
    I think that if there are potential "negatives" in your background, it is better to face them head on, address them, show why they're actually NOT negative and then move on.

    For example, if you have diverse experience across a wide range of positions, you might worry that employers will see you as "a jack of all trades, master of none." Well, they might! So you have to take that and address it head on. You might start your resume introduction with something like this:

    "'Jack of all trades' who has consistently excelled in every position, no matter how diverse and how little training is provided."

    Or start your resume with a direct quote from yourself:

    "No matter what the assignment, you can trust me to succeed. I've done it time and time again in a variety of industries and functions."

    Or find the common thread that runs through your experience and highlight that:

    "Whether working in IT, Marketing or Sales, I have always been able to quickly assess the situation, develop a workable action plan and motivate others to succeed. I've never missed a deadline and every one of my employers have grown in revenue during my tenure."

    You can also address perceived weaknesses in your cover letter and by raising them during an interview. Say something like "many people have wondered about the fact that ..." or 'Maybe you're wondering..." and then take the opportunity to address that issue.

    There are many other ways to address potential negatives and how you address them is less important than making sure you do address them. Just don't let them sit there like the elephant in the room because if there is a concern, you may never be told about it and you may well lose out on the opportunity without ever understanding why.
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