Cover Letters 101
A well written cover letter is a great way to point out to an employer why you are a good fit for the job. A poorly written cover letter is quickly met with the delete key. I once received a 700+ word cover letter that was single spaced and in all caps. Cover Letter Quick Tip – Do not ever send one of THESE. Not only did I not review the resume, I thought that this person could possibly have been the second coming of the Unabomber.
Question: Do I need a cover letter if the employer is not asking for one?
Answer: You should always send a cover letter.
The employer may not always read it but if they do, you can use that opportunity to point out some key skills that will make them want to read your resume. Since most resumes are submitted via email these days, you should submit your cover letter as an attachment but also as the body of your email. This increases your chances of the cover letter being read.
Question: What should be on the cover letter?
Answer: The cover letter should not rehash your entire resume. The longer the cover letter is, the less likely it is to be completely read. A cover letter should be concise and cover 3 very import things:
- Express your interest in the specific role you are applying for.
- 2-3 very specific points about why you are interested in the job.
- 2-3 very specific points about why you are qualified for the job.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to make very specific points. Do not use this space to write things like “Excellent Communication Skills”. These are general things that every employer wants every employee to have. Also, do not copy directly from a cover letter writing guidebook – I tell every time someone does this. Just like your resume, every cover letter you write should be customized to the individual job and the employer.
If you were referred to the role by someone in their organization, consider starting your resume with:
Dear Mrs. Smith,
A colleague of mine, John Doe recommended that I contact you directly about your administrative assistant opening.
Hopefully the person referring you is in good standing with the person reviewing the resume and the company. If they are, you automatically start out with higher credibility than a random submission from a job posting. We love referrals here at Contact 1. If I get a resume from someone referred by a Contact 1 employee who has done a good job for us, I am almost always guaranteed to be getting another good employee. Referrals always reflect back to the person doing the referring and no one wants to refer someone who is going to make them look bad.
Just remember not to over think it and use the opportunity to sell your value to the employer so you can land that interview.
By: Greg Foutz, Manager – Staffing Services & Recruitment