People ask me daily, “Do I really need a cover letter?”
And every day I answer, “Yes, you do!”
The cover letter is an essential document in your job search. If you want to end up on the “contact for an interview” list, read on to learn how a professionally written cover letter can benefit you.
1. A cover letter announces what position you would like to apply for.
Imagine you are a decision maker for a Fortune 500 company. This company receives over two million internet hits daily on its careers page. Now consider how many resumes might be submitted each week. Without an accompanying cover letter, the hiring manger has to weed through the resume pile, attempting to discern what jobseekers are applying for. It is likely that many of the resumes end up being tossed aside. Sending a cover letter keeps the hiring manager from making assumptions when it concerns your resume.
2. A cover letter offers an added opportunity for you to market yourself.
What do you have to offer an employer that is distinctive? Do you have interests or expertise not listed on your resume? Sending a cover letter allows you to explain more of your “features and benefits” and demonstrate all of your unique qualifications. If you are willing to work extended hours or weekends, you can include this information as a unique selling point.
3. A cover letter allows you to explain details you avoided in your resume.
Why is there a large gap in your employment history? Are you changing careers? Why are you interested in XYZ Company? Why are you applying for a job in Tampa when you live in Denver (was it a mistake or are you relocating)? You can utilize your cover letter to answer many questions a hiring manager might have when reviewing your resume.
4. A well-written cover letter demonstrates excellent communication skills.
In every job, communication is important. Even if you do not directly interact with clients or customers, you will interact with coworkers and supervisors in meetings, in the lunchroom, and over the telephone.
It’s well known that jobseekers with good communication skills are highly sought after in today’s job market. Sending a cover letter suggests good business etiquette and proves that you have common courtesy; both are qualities of someone with solid communication skills.
5. A cover letter provides you the opportunity to ask for the interview.
Yes, you should request an interview, and you can do this without asking an actual question. Tell the employer how much you would love the opportunity to meet with them. As an added bonus, you could explain what you plan on doing for the company once you get started. If you’re feeling confident, go ahead and say you will call to arrange a meeting with them.
6. A cover letter can reveal that you have done your homework on the company.
If you illustrate that you know a few things about the company, you will seem more believable when you express how enthusiastic you are about the company and how excited you are by the opportunity. Sending out the same generic cover letter template to 50 job announcements just can’t create the same effect.