Tuesday, February 12, 2013
If you’re applying for jobs without customizing your cover letter every time, you’re missing out on one of the most effective ways to grab an employer’s attention.
A cover letter is your opportunity to make a compelling case for yourself as a candidate, totally aside from what’s in your resume.
That because for most jobs, picking the best candidate is rarely solely about skills and experience. Those obviously take center stage, but if that’s all that mattered, there would be no point in interviews; employers would make a hire based off of resumes alone. But in the real world, other factors matter too—people skills, intellect, communication abilities, enthusiasm for the job, and simply what kind of person you are. A good cover letter effectively conveys those qualities.
Here’s what a good cover letter accomplishes:
It shows personal interest in working for this particular organization and in this particular job, and it’s specific about why, which makes it both more believable and more compelling. It’s human nature—people respond when they feel a personal interest from you.
It’s written in a conversation, engaging tone; it’s not stiff or overly formal.
Perhaps most importantly, it provides information about the writer that will never be available from a resume—personal traits and work habits.
What a good cover letter doesn’t do is simply summarize the resume that follows. Think about it: With such limited initial contact, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you squander a whole page of your application on repeating the contents of the other pages.
Instead, a great cover letter will provide a whole different type of information. For instance, if you’re applying for a secretarial job that requires top-notch organizational skills, and you’re so neurotically organized that you alphabetize your spices and color-code your bills every month, most hiring managers would love to know that about you. And that’s not something you’d ever put in your resume, but the cover letter is a perfect place for it.