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Three Cover Letter Tips To Help Your Job Search

Is the cover letter necessary?  Why should I invest additional time in creating a cover letter?  Does the cover letter add any value?

As a senior career consultant, I often receive these questions from job seekers.  As a former Director of Human Resources and previous Talent Manager who has reviewed hundreds if not thousands  of resumes, my response is always “Yes”, “Yes”, “Yes” and let me tell you why. Here are three cover letter tips that you help you understand why a cover letter is important.

  1. There is a greater chance your resume and application will be pulled from the applicant tracking system or “black hole” if you include a compelling cover letter. Applying to an on line job posting can take from 30-90 minutes of your precious time (if you are lucky). You will be required to upload your resume, provide specific details such as previous supervisors’ names and contact information, and often take a career assessment or personality profile. If you are going to spend this amount of valuable time, take the extra minutes to submit an impactful cover letter that may pique the interest of the hiring manager or recruiter.
  2. The cover letter format quickly lets the decision maker or recruiter see that there is a fit between what the company is looking for and what you, the job seeker, has to offer. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have researched the company, understand their needs and have the required skills to add value to the position and organization. By including a cover letter, you can be creative and sell yourself in a few brief targeted paragraphs. If you meet the majority of the job requirements, but not all, the cover letter can also be a way to stress your key skills and hope that the other will be overlooked by a person and not the system.
  3. A well thought out cover letter can demonstrate your professionalism, differentiate you from the competition and help you to be remembered favorably. You will also show that you followed instructions. A business owner I know recently posted a position for a client relationship manager and specifically asked candidates to submit both a resume and cover letter. He received numerous resumes but not one cover letter.  So what impression did these candidates leave with the business owner? Lazy….can’t follow instructions….no time for research….desperate job seeker applying for everything?

Finding a job in today’s market requires creativity, patience, persistence and deploying multiple job search activities and strategies. Don’t rule out the effectiveness of a well written cover letter.

Paula Pope is a Senior Consultant with The Frontier Group. Her practice specialties are career coaching, outplacement/transition and EQ leadership coaching.