Welcome to the next step in the Job Search Series over the last couple posts in this series we’ve covered: Writing your Resume and Getting out there. Now we move onto a topic that I personally have a love-hate relationship with: The Cover Letter. Surprisingly this one piece of paper can be incredibly important.
What is it?
The cover letter is a short introduction letter to you and your resume. It will have a few polite niceties and a quick description why you as a candidate should be considered for the job. This one pager is attached to the front of your resume when it’s submitted for a job.
Why it’s important?
The cover letter is important because, lets be honest, most people don’t write them. When submitting a job application all they do is submit their resume. By this virtue alone simply creating one will give you a slight advantage and increase your chances of getting an interview. The second thing they give you is some additional space where you can plug your skills. Your resume is nothing more than a highlight reel from your working past and it probably doesn’t cover everything. By adding a cover letter you can highlight your interest in a job or point out a reason why you should be considered.
The main reason I have a real love hate relationship with the cover letter is I have experience with them from the other side of the fence, the hiring manager’s point of view. What I have learnt is the people who went to the effort of writing a cover letter are more interested in the job, they’ve done more research, and stand out of the crowd that much more. Imagine if you were a hiring manager and had a stack of 300 resumes and 10 of them had cover letters; which ones would you start with?
Best approach – write one
By virtue of writing one you are already putting yourself ahead of the game. From a very general point of view introduce yourself and why you might be good for the job. Then write a point or two about your skill for the job above and beyond your resume and you’re pretty much done. I’ve definitely simplified the process but this shouldn’t be a long piece of prose but a short couple paragraph introduction that will entice the reader to look at your resume and consider you.
A well-written introductory cover letter can show the hiring manager that you’re more serious about this job than the rest of the people in the pile that didn’t write one. Even if you’re not as qualified as you could be, that cover letter shows determination and can get you an interview when you might have been previously overlooked.