There is still a great deal of debate about the importance of a cover letter. Some people say that they aren't necessary and are a waste of time, while others say that using a cover letter is still the best way to impress an employer and show that you are serious about the job. The truth is that a well-written cover letter has never been a reason to not hire someone. However, there are employers who won't hire someone due to the lack of one. In my mind, that means that a great cover letter doesn't hurt, and in some cases, it can be a huge help. That's reason enough to include one.
A cover letter is the first thing that a prospective employer is going to see. Unlike your resume, which lists your qualifications, the cover letter gives the employer the chance to hear from you and can give them a reason to really read your resume. Your cover letter should tell the reader why you are writing, who you are, why you're a good fit for the company and when you will contact them to follow up.
This is the epitome of professional correspondence and you should treat it as such. It isn't simply a tool to introduce your resume, it's the first piece of work you will deliver to a company, so you have to be sure so that you cover all your bases. A good cover letter can do several things:
- It allows you to tell a brief story about your experience and touch on the qualifications listed in your resume.
- It give you the chance to mention how your important skills relate to the job requirements.
- Shows the employer that you are interested in that specific job.
- It provides a clear example of your skill in written communication.
When an employer reads over your resume, they are looking at your past work history and skills and trying to understand how those skills will relate to the opening they are attempting to fill. They are also reading over it to find clues about what sort of person you are and what kind of employee you will make. The cover letter takes a good portion of this work out of their hands and gives you the perfect opportunity to make it easy for them to see who you are and why they should want to have you as part of their team.
Now that we've established the importance of taking the time to write a cover letter, next week I'll break down the steps to make it easier to write a cover letter that screams "Hire Me!".
Do you include a cover letter when you submit a resume? Why or why not?