Monday, February 17, 2014

Cover Letters Can Cover a Lot!

When you apply for a job, you submit a resume right? How about a cover letter? In the technology-driven world in which we live, cover letters often get the shaft. Well, I’m here to tell you that they are very important and could lead to an interview when your resume doesn’t get the job done.

In the Harvard Business Review blog from February 4, 2014, Amy Gallo gives her tips on why it’s important to write a cover letter. Here, I summarize and give my own insights. If you would like to read her blog in its entirety, click here:

1.       Don’t let your lack of a cover letter do the talking for you. When you don’t send a cover letter, you miss out on an opportunity to set yourself apart and give more detail than what is in your resume. You can also address any “red flags” that might be in your resume (e.g., employment gaps or excessive job hopping). You can even point out accomplishments or skills that don’t seem to fit into the resume.
2.      Originality wins! You’ll want to write a different cover letter for every job you apply to because your personal connection, information about the company, and relevant skills change with each position. Besides, sending the same letter sounds like you’ve sent the same letter. Recruiters and hiring managers know when someone has sent the same letter over and over.

3.      LinkedIn can be your best friend. A cover letter allows you to showcase what you know about an organization and use your research (yes, you’ll need to do that) to communicate to the hiring manager why YOU would be the perfect candidate for the job at THEIR company.

4.      Get them from the get-go. A strong opening statement can catch the eye. Some people argue that if employers don’t read your whole resume (usually, they don’t), then they definitely wouldn’t read a cover letter. However, since most people don’t include cover letters, they already stand out. Add a dynamic statement, or better yet, mention a personal connection (e.g. “I heard about this position from my neighbor, Joe Smith, who is a supervisor in the Quality Assurance department.”) and you’ve got them at hello!

5.      Personality counts! Resumes are pretty straightforward. Cover letters allow you to let your personality shine a little. It’s a letter, so your writing style, word choice, and enthusiasm can speak volumes about you as a person.

6.      Keep it short and to the point. It should not be long-winded. Three short paragraphs should do the trick.

So to summarize, write a cover letter every time you apply to a job and you will find yourself with more job opportunities than if you just wrote a resume! Happy job hunting!

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