Oh, the cover letter. Often cursed, often agonized over.
Many people sigh, “What’s the point? No one reads them anyway.”
I am here to not only defend this job search staple, but to invite you to embrace it as well. Here’s why:
People in charge of hiring do read cover letters.
I hear from countless recruiters and managers that a well written, thoughtful cover letter is at the very least a refreshing change. Many times, it is an instrumental factor in putting someone’s resume in the “yes” pile.
Is it true that some hiring managers skip cover letters? Yes. But not all of them. A generic cover letter is a missed opportunity. If you want the job, use the cover letter to tell them so – and why they want you above anyone else.
Cover letters can streamline your job search.
I encourage clients to start writing a cover letter first – even before they begin to tailor their resume or fill in an on-line application. Why? Because the process helps you decide if you want to put in the effort and energy of applying.
Before applying for a job, take a moment and reflect on whether you can concisely answer the following questions:
- How do your skills directly relate to the employer’s needs?
- Why do you want the position (beyond the promise of a paycheck)?
- Why should the employer choose you over all the other candidates?
The answers to these questions are all core components of a great cover letter. If you can can answer all of the above – terrific! You are that much farther ahead in preparing for the interview. If you’re struggling to come up with good answers, then perhaps you shouldn’t apply for the position.
If you are on board and have embraced the cover letter as a job search friend, here are some tips to help you get started:
Good luck! Here’s to finding the right work, at the right time, at the right place!