En Route: A Career Blog

Do Cover Letters Really Matter?

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: November 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

Most candidates apply for jobs online, attaching their resume and hitting ‘send’. You may wonder why you’d need a cover letter for such a simplified process.

The reasons are the hiring managers or recruiters who will be reviewing your documents. Most are overwhelmed with countless applications. They’re not eager to open every single resume to see if the individual has the skill set they need, or if it’s someone who’s applying to every available position and hoping for the best.

A Resume States What You Do – a Cover Letter Shows Who You Are

Your cover letter tells the recruiter or hiring manager how you’re a perfect match for the position. That you can hit the ground runningA cover letter is a great way to indicate that you’re willing to travel or relocate, on your own dime. Or that you recently gained certification in your industry. A great cover letter is like a well-written story synopsis on the back of a book. It whets the reader’s interest to learn more about you.

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Although there are no set rules to creating cover letters, the following are some guidelines:

Be Brief

Cover letters are not essays. Use one page to communicate who you are, what you can do for your potential employer, and why you are the best candidate for the position.

Be Professional, Yet Personal

Avoid using the same tone and language you use in your resume. Address your reader as if you were speaking to him or her in person. Your cover letter should add to whatever is in your resume, not repeat it.

Tell Who You Are

Open the letter with a clear statement of who you are and what you do. Don’t make your reader search for that information in the body of the letter or worse have to figure it out from the content of the letter.

Maintain Consistency

Use the same heading format on all documents within your resume package (resume, cover letter, references, follow-up letters, thank-you letters).

Highlight Your Value-Added Skills

Spotlight your skills that do not appear in your resume such as your work ethics, teamwork ability, and skills that are not listed as requirements for the job but are useful to the organization.

Explain Why You Want to Work for the Company

Do you like their product or service, their financial standing, their position in the industry, or their direction for the future? Companies like to know what captures your attention.

Proof, Proof, Proof

Make sure that your letter is clear, concise, and error free. Make a checklist that addresses grammar, punctuation, and words that are spelled correctly but out of context (form instead of from, you instead of your, etc.). Use this checklist for your own proof reading and have someone else read it if possible.

A cover letter can make the difference between getting an interview and getting passed over. Use a cover letter to help boost your chances of getting the job offer.

Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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