Imagine a PB&J without the peanut butter or the jelly, Unimaginable! The same goes for sending a résumé with no cover letter. A résumé is of limited value to a prospective hiring manager without a cover letter communicating why you’re the ideal candidate for the specific job posted and demonstrating that you’ve done your homework on the company. Your cover letter accomplishes things that your résumé can’t and saves the hiring manager the time to figure out why you’re the best fit.
In essence, a solid cover letter explains how you align with the specific responsibilities and requirements of the posted job and how you’ve met or exceeded them previously. It’s the difference between wearing a suit off the rack or having it custom tailored to make you look your best. And, cover letters are where can best address things like employment gaps or career changes in a positive way.
Hiring managers and recruiters spend a brief 7- to 11-seconds looking at a résumé to see if there’s a reason to read on. Think of it as the front page of the New York Times. A headline has to grab you enough to read the first couple of sentences which will then determine if you’ll continue reading and turn to the back page to finish the story. Same with a résumé. That’s where the cover letter comes in. It cuts to the chase and tells the hiring manager why you are an ideal fit for the position. Writing a brief but strong cover letter gives you a career leg up on other candidates.
Cover letters should always be addressed to a specific person. Avoid “To Whom It May Concern” like the plague! And, don’t rely on spellcheck. Proof read your cover letter all the way through more than once (especially if you’re promoting your attention to detail!). Draw the reader’s attention to the strongest matches between what the employer is looking for and your most relevant skills, experience, or credentials; quantifying your achievements wherever possible. Demonstrate how your own values align with the company’s mission and vision. Their website can give your a great deal of information to use.
Keep your cover letter to a single page. It warrants re-emphasizing that employers don’t have the time or attention span to try and figure out what you’re trying to say. Make their job easier by being succinct and clear. When you get in the habit of writing cover letters you’ll find them easier and easier to create and more and more valuable in your career search.
Schedule a FREE 15-minute career consultation with Certified Professional Career Coach Garrison Leykam at https://calendly.com/garrison-1